Leadership and Faith

Faith. It’s not a word I’ve heard used a lot in my working life.  Perhaps it is because it has a tinge of uncertainty about it that many in traditional organizations tend to view it with misgiving.  It is an important word though… especially important if you want to achieve anything; rise above anything; or stretch beyond the boundaries of your current understanding.

This occurred to me recently when I went to see the movie, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.  Without spoiling it for anyone, this story is about a very wealthy Sheik who loves to fish.  He owns a castle in Scotland and part of his vision for the future of his people is to make it possible for salmon to live and thrive in Yemen.  It seems like an impossible dream to everyone but him.   And yet, he continues to pursue it and to believe in it.

The truth is, Leadership asks a great deal of us.  It often demands that we strike out into the unknown and convince other people it’s a good idea.  It asks us to trust that some things do not come complete with scientific or rational explanation.  It asks us, too, to believe in our own abilities: the potential and ability of those who work with us and in the value and viability of our vision, even at times when that vision seems unlikely enough to be unattainable.

Faith also asks this of us.   And, it makes room for great things to happen.

It allows us to ‘step off cliffs’  ~ Building and growing a business requires us to take chances.  Sometimes these are measured and well researched and sometimes they constitute a leap of faith.   I think the success of the latter often depends on how fervently we believe in our imagined outcomes. Those who doubt either themselves or their ability to realize their imagined outcomes rarely see them come to fruition.

It allows us to let go ~ Simply put, when we place our faith in the ability and good intentions of others, we are free to concentrate on other important things.  Of course, part of letting go includes successfully transferring our vision of the future to others but, once done, it allows them the freedom to think, create and produce great results in ways that we might not have imagined.

It allows us to see mistakes as reparable ~ When we really believe in what we are doing, mistakes become part of the learning and growing process.  Indeed, if our faith in the direction we are taking is strong, the setbacks we will inevitably experience will find a way of teaching us something useful.

The bottom line is that faith in organizations is an essential part of growth and exploration.  It belongs in the workplace.  It does not guarantee success but it allows for small, and sometimes very big, victories.   And, like stepping stones in a stream, they eventually lead us to the other side where we can look back and marvel at the journey and maybe even go fishing in the Yemen.

What do you think?



Filed under Leadership, Leadership Vision, motivating & Inspiring, Organizational Effectiveness

12 responses to “Leadership and Faith

  1. Great post Gwen. Do you recommend the movie?

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi David ~ Thanks very much. The movie tells an interesting story. It is funny in places and touching in places. It’s never going to win an Oscar but I found it well acted and entertaining. If that suits your fancy, then yes, I recommend it 🙂

  2. gregblencoe


    This is the first time I’ve heard about the movie Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. But based on the trailer, it looks really good.

    I think varying amounts of faith are required for pretty much every accomplishment. And the bigger accomplishments typically require a lot more faith.

    Sometimes when I see planes flying, I will think about the Wright Brothers and how much they must have gone through. I’m guessing their accomplishment required an extraordinary amount of faith.

    And I watched a movie a year or so ago about Christopher Columbus and he also had an incredible amount of faith in what he was doing despite having lots of naysayers.

    I like the saying “Keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground.” I think having a combination of having faith while also being practical is usually the best approach.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Greg~ Thanks for providing some excellent examples of faith in action and pointing out too that faith remains in dreams until we do the work to make them a reality.

  3. Hi Gwyn – really good points as always. Faith in an organisation translates into commitment from everyone involved in the organisational message. That is usually a key differentiator in employee engagement.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Dorothy ~ Yes, I agree. In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you call it faith or trust or something else, it seems to be the “secret sauce” that attracts us and inspires us to push against known boundaries to explore the “next thing” Thanks for that 🙂

  4. Pingback: Leadership and Faith | Leadership Building | Scoop.it


    its my first time 2 have heard of such a movie i will take my time 2 watch it

  6. susanmazza

    So many great points here on an important subject. The word “faith” for many is synonymous with, or at least comes in a context of, religion. I appreciate how you shift the context for this critical element of effective leadership. Without faith there would be no progress, Without faith we will never choose to challenge the status quo, stand for something better, or be bold enough to pursue making the seemingly impossible a reality.

  7. Gwyn Teatro

    Hi Susan ~ I agree. When I first began writing this post, I went on for a bit about how we so often talk about faith solely in a religious context. On reading it back, I decided not to include it in favour of focusing on how faith and leadership are inextricably linked. Thank you for saying so succinctly what it took me a whole paragraph (since deleted) to say. The post is now complete.

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