During my years at CNN, I’ve spoken to and worked with countless business leaders. Interviewing them always made me wonder: What makes a truly great leader? Is it something you’re born with? Or can leadership be taught? Can someone be coached into leadership, like so many books I see at airport bookshops proclaim? Is leadership a function of the situation (would Churchill have risen to greatness without facing the menace of Hitler? Remember, Churchill wasn’t reelected after winning World War II)? Or is leadership a function of culture, with certain cultures breeding leaders better than others?
The authors of The Rabbi and the CEO have arrived at an innovative and powerful answer. Blending time-honored traditions with cutting- edge management methods, this book produces an amalgam that offers leaders (and leaders-in-waiting) a kind of power that’s often missing in boardrooms. Steeped in the rich, ancient tradition of Jewish thought, this book makes the timeless wisdom of the ages directly relevant to today’s business leaders.
The unique synergy comes from an unusual partnership: the prominent Rabbi Aaron Raskin, eloquent spokesman for Judaism, and author of Letters of Light; and Dr. Thomas D. Zweifel, a CEO and leadership professor and consultant in his own right, and the author of four previous books on leadership and people power, including "Communicate or Die" and "Culture Clash."
Why Judaism? Don’t other traditions offer equally profound and rich principles and insightful stories? Yes, all roads lead to Rome, and there are countless ways to reveal essential truth. On the anniversary of a death, for example, Catholics offer a memorial mass; Muslims might read the 36th chapter of the Qur’an; Protestants might gather to sing hymns like the early twentieth-century song “Tell Mother I’ll Be There”; Hindus might cook the favorite meal of the deceased, bring it to the temple and serve it to the priest; Buddhists might burn special counterfeit money known as ghost money to repay the dead for their kindness; the Haida Indians of the American Northwest might set out a meal and burn the whole table; and Jews say the kadish prayer on the yahrzeit of their dead every year. Most everyone, it seems, lights a candle.
But Jews are not universally called the People of the Book by accident. Their book, the Torah—the five books of Moses, also called the Pentateuch from the Greek word for “five”; or, by gentiles, the Old Testament—is a sheer boundless fount of stories about leaders and their moral dilemmas, from Abraham to Noah, from Eve to Sarah, from Moses to David. The Hebrew Bible is chock-full of leaders’ trials, tribu- lations, and triumphs. And if leadership is about freeing yourself from the shackles of the past and achieving a desired future, the Jews undertook one of the boldest collective emancipations of all time when they left Egypt. The Hebrew word for Egypt is mitzrayim, which means “the narrows.” A core objective of the Torah is to remove us from our own Egypt: to help us transcend our limitations, unleash our indomitable human spirit, and be all we can be. That is what true leadership is all about: enabling people to be themselves, take charge, and fulfill their highest aspirations.
But the Rabbi and the CEO did not stop there. They found that when they married teachings from Torah and Talmud with modern leadership models, the combination yielded powerful insights into today’s leadership challenges—trials that would have given even great leaders like Churchill or Kennedy a headache—and useful instruments for tackling any issue that might confront a twenty-first-century manager. How do you keep your moral compass when you face an ethical dilemma? How do you restore the big picture in the clutter of the day- to-day? How do you communicate effectively to mobilize highly mobile knowledge workers for results? How do you manage outsourcing, offshoring, or virtual teams through remote empowerment... (Foreword, Ali Velshi, CNN Anchor)