Leadership In The “Worthiness Era”

Worthiness Era

A middle-aged woman complained on Facebook about the lousy service she received at a local hot dog counter. She wrote, “The hot dogs were delicious, but the waiter was down-right rude.” She continued, “I’ll be looking for hot dogs someplace else.” Her post got lots of supportive responses.  In the “Worthiness Era,” good products must be matched by good behavior.

We’ve heard enough news of Fortune 500 companies that shirk taxes while padding profits.  Firms that make a widget, rake in revenue, but foul the planet.  CEOs  abuse their privilege, then bail out with a multi-million dollar parachute. Is this just more evidence that bad guys finish first?  Maybe. But a different story is unfolding.

Despite the discouraging headlines, noted economist Laurie Bassi asserts that we have entered the “Worthiness Era.”1 And in it, the good guys are poised to win. This new season results from a convergence of forces ranging from the explosion of online information sharing, the emergence of the ethical consumer, and the advent of civic-minded Millenials. People are choosing the companies and churches in their lives in the same way they choose the guests they invite into their homes.  It’s no longer just about bucks and production; people are demanding that organizations be “good company.”

If Laurie Bassi is right, then Christ-centered leaders have a leg up on the field. Jesus said to His leaders in training, “I came not to be served, but to serve.” This kind of leadership is primed for a welcome comeback.

And the woman on Facebook that complained about the waiter?  The day after her entry, the owner wrote, “I didn’t realize there was a problem yesterday until I saw your post. I am truly sorry for any mistreatment. This is not reflective of how I try to run my business. Please accept my apology. My staff (and I) promise to do better. If you decide to come back, feel free to call me ahead and I will reserve you the VIP booth. Stay as long as you like.”

This business owner understands the “Worthiness Era.” And I’m betting his hot dog diner will be just fine.

1Lauri Bassi, Good Company: Business Principles in the Worthiness Era. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2011.


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