Pleasing the most important undercover Boss

Super Bowl XLIV broke ratings records Sunday night with 106.5 million viewers. More than a third of that number stuck around, or tuned in anew, for the premiere of a new CBS reality show that followed called “Undercover Boss.”

If you didn’t see the show, you likely have seen the commercials and know the premise. A company president or owner — in last Sunday’s case, Larry O’Donnell, the chief operating officer of Waste Management — leaves the board room to spend a few days anonymously rubbing elbows with company workers doing more menial tasks. Sunday night, that meant O’Donnell cleaned toilets, picked up litter, rode on a garbage truck, and did a lot of listening to over-worked employees.

The experience showed O’Donnell the effect decisions made on the executive level have on employees’ stress level and even family life. He told viewers he would be a different leader because of it.

Later this month, Catholic business leaders and managers from around the Diocese of Peoria will gather to discuss “Being Different.” The topics to be discussed at this faith-based management seminar, a diocesan first, are as real as it gets for Catholic managers who take their faith seriously: What is the role of faith in the workplace? How do I integrate my faith into my work? What role do ethics and morality play in my work life?

Important questions indeed, because we all work for an undercover Boss who routinely takes the guise of co-workers, especially those the world sees as “least.” Do we recognize God in them? Does our faith make a difference in our decisions?

These are topics that should make for fascinating discussion, especially in the present economy. If you’re a Catholic business leader or manager in the Diocese of Peoria, don’t miss the registration form on page 10. — Thomas J. Dermody

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