Seminar calls on managers to live, model beliefs at work

Faith-based management sounds difficult, but for the speakers at a daylong seminar that explored the topic last Saturday it came down to something very basic.

“We need to witness to our faith by what we say and do, and we need to be Catholic in the business world, in the legal profession, in schools, in government all the time,” said Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, who welcomed the 65 men and women from around the diocese to “Being Different.”

“If we aren’t living our Catholic faith outside, we aren’t really living it inside,” he told them.

“When we meet our maker he won’t ask, ‘What was the bottom line?’,” Jack Desatnick, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Enercon Engineering, said later. “He will ask, “Did you have empathy? Did you do what I taught you? Did you give back? Then he’ll open the door.”
Desatnick was one of the organizers of the Feb. 27 seminar, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the Diocese of Peoria. He said he had waited 30 years to tell people “It’s OK to be different” and expressed the hope that this would be the first of many discussions about faith-based management.

The speakers for “Being Different” also included Daniel P. Daly, president of the west region of Busey Bank and founding president and CEO of First Capital Bank; Emiel J. Michelet, the retired chief operating officer and chief financial officer of OSF Saint Francis Inc. and chief financial of OSF Healthcare Foundation; and Delores “Dodie” Gomer, senior human resources manager for the Product Development Center for Excellence and production COE at Caterpillar Inc.

In sharing their work history, each speaker noted the importance of mentors, talked about lessons learned, and explained how their Catholic faith played a role in what they did.

During his presentation, Daly said he has found that when business leaders lean on their faith it energizes the people they work with.

“We, as human beings, have certain desires,” he said, naming the need to belong, the need to know that managers care for them and respect them, and the need to be liked.

“We’ve also got to keep in mind that people want to be safe — they want to feel safe in what they do,” Daly said, adding that they also want to be inspired by their leaders.

“If we’re doing everything else . . . we will inspire people,” he said.

FOCUS ON JESUS
Michelet credited the Cursillo weekend he made 36 years ago for making him “a better person, a better manager, a better boss” as well as a more loving husband and father. Even so, he acknowledged that it can still be hard to live a life that is directed to God.

In order to make Jesus part of everything he does, Michelet said he makes it a point to ask the tough questions: Would Jesus cheat on his tax return? Would Jesus inflate his expense account? Would Jesus swear? Would Jesus vote? Would Jesus pay his employees a fair, living wage?
“Like all human beings I make mistakes,” he said, “but I will say that my life is better for Jesus being in it.”

He added that prayer — both formal and informal — has been an important part of his life. Not only did he pray for his employees and fellow executives every day, but he said all meetings at OSF Saint Francis start with prayer.

“It kept the rest of the meeting focused,” Michelet said.

Gomer also relies on prayer, noting that she never goes into a difficult meeting or conversation without “a rosary in the pocket.”

That’s important because being Catholic in the workplace demands that you be honest and straightforward with people, talking to them instead of about them, she said.

Modeling forgiveness and focusing on the poor, the hungry and the lonely are other ways that Catholics can have an influence in the marketplace, Gomer said.

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