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Christian Faith Plus Chinese Productivity

At first glance, it looks as though it could be any other factory driving the rapid development of the Chinese economy. But this is no ordinary enterprise because here religious faith is as important as profit.

In fact, the owner of the Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou would like to see all his staff convert to Christianity.

And such a factory is not a one-off: it is part of a growing number of businesses run by Christian entrepreneurs in one of China’s key enterprise zones, whose success is now being studied by the Chinese government.

As he shows me the production facilities, the factory’s general manager, Weng-Jen Wau, tells me that every month, $5m (£3m) worth of industrial valves are manufactured.

About 40% of the factory’s output is exported to businesses worldwide.

But he seems to have limited interest in the sales figures – he is far more concerned to tell me about the place his family’s Christian faith has in the life of the factory.

‘Better workers’

Every Monday morning, the senior managers gather together and pray about the business.

Once a week, members of staff are encouraged to attend an on-site Christian fellowship meeting, where they read the Bible and pray for each other.

Weng-Jen Wau believes that by encouraging increasing numbers of his staff to convert to Christianity, his business will prosper.

And he tells me that when staff do convert to Christianity, their attitude towards their work is transformed.

“If you’re a Christian you’re more honest, with a better heart,” he says. “The people who aren’t Christians aren’t responsible. I think it’s very different.

“I’m not saying those people who aren’t Christians are all bad, but from the percentage of the workers who are Christians, they seem to be more responsible.

“Also when they do things wrong, they feel guilty – that’s the difference,” he explains.

One of the workers I met who had recently converted to Christianity explained that he had known nothing about the religion before he started work at the factory.

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But he said that his new-found faith was now a source of daily inspiration.

He told me that he was now trying to convert his friends and colleagues to Christianity.

“If everybody became a Christian, it would have a very big impact, and would really help the development of our factory,” he said.

Work ethic

So I asked Mr Wau how much religion was a factor when he was recruiting new staff.

“Of course I would choose the Christians first, definitely,” he said.

Such comments could prompt accusations of discriminatory practice in some countries, but he had no doubt about the sort of impact Christianity could have on Chinese business.

“I think if all enterprises absorb this Christian culture, we will have a much more harmonious society,” he said.

There are obvious questions about whether the staff really have discovered Christianity, or whether they are simply responding pragmatically to a clearly defined vision for their company.

Those I met were keen to stress the significance of their new faith, and the lack of pressure to convert – though there was no disguising their bosses’ clear desire to boost Christian numbers in the workforce.

But the wider role of Christian entrepreneurs in the economic success of the Wenzhou private enterprise zone has not gone unnoticed by the Chinese government.

Far from being regarded as a religious oddity, the impact of Christian-run businesses is now being studied by Chinese government officials.

At the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, I met Professor Zhuo Xinping, Director of the Institute of World Religions.

He specialises in the study of Christianity’s growing influence in China – and has plenty to say about Wenzhou’s Christian entrepreneurs.

He tells me that the city was visited by substantial numbers of Western Christian missionaries during the 19th Century and thus has – by Chinese standards – a long history of Christian faith.

Today it has an unusually high number of Christians for a Chinese city – with some estimates suggesting Christians now make up 20% of the population.

But what really interests him is the way in which the growth of Christianity and economic prosperity have happened side by side.

The Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou, China
Image captionThe factory has a monthly output worth $5m

He tells me that Chinese researchers are considering whether in Western history there is a link between economic prosperity and Protestant Christianity – and they are questioning what that might mean for today’s China.

“It’s very important to find the secret of social development, the so-called potential forces for a nation,” he says.

“When it comes to Western countries, the majority Chinese understanding is that this potential force is Protestant Christianity.”

Christian faith may sound like an unlikely component in China’s future economic success.

But the notion that newfound faith can inspire a workforce to increased levels of productivity is being taken seriously not only by Christian businessmen, but by China’s Communist – and officially atheist – leaders

Inspire Loyalty with Your Leadership

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As the leader of your business, you’re surely aware that the loyalty you inspire in your employees is more than just important; it’s essential, according to Murray Newlands for Entrepreneur.com

Beyond producing improved results from your employees and reducing turnover in your staff, the loyalty you encourage in your team — through the behaviours that you exemplify –will extend itself to your customer base, and beyond.

Loyalty isn’t something you can just gain, at the drop of a hat. To be a leader truly worthy of loyalty takes hard work and requires self-inquiry and a clarity of mind. After all, who can follow someone who doesn’t even know what he or she wants or is headed? Inspiring loyalty may take personal work, but it will be worth the effort when you have a team that will follow you to the ends of the earth.

There are many ways to inspire loyalty, but here are eight ways, the best leaders inspire loyalty, in even the most doubtful employees.

  1. Great leaders give their trust to others, without reservation.

Constantly looking over your employee’s shoulder to second-guess his or her work creates a sense of personal doubt, especially if there has been no pertinent reason to mistrust the staffer’s expertise. Great leaders give their trust to others, without reservation, and those others are then motivated to not only give trust back, but to work harder to meet the expectations of someone they respect.

  1. Employees learn in an encouraging environment.

In the short and long-term, all people need to feel as though their work, and by extension their lives, has meaning and positive progression. If there is no opportunity for learning in an

encouraging environment, employees may start to feel stagnant and resentful.

  1. Employees are encouraged to follow their passions and stretch beyond what they thought was their capacity.

Employees who are encouraged to follow their passions and stretch beyond what they thought was their capacity are sure to have deeply loyal feelings toward a leader who fosters that development.

  1. Leaders are right there in the trenches when needed.

A leader is perhaps expected to have more responsibility than do employees, but that doesn’t mean that the leader is “above” any work that needs to be done. Some of the best leaders I have known are right there in the trenches when that’s called for. If you’re too good to get your hands dirty with your team, your team members will start to see their jobs as menial and unimportant — just as you do. But, if you do whatever it takes for your company to be successful, so will everyone around you.

  1. Leaders are completely clear about their mission and values.

A leader’s clarity creates a compass by which his or her team can navigate. If you aren’t completely clear about your mission and values, it’s obvious to anyone in your employ that following you will lead nowhere. So, be communicative and definitive about your wide-reaching vision and your day-to-day tasks to enable your team to see that your leadership is true.

  1. Great leaders know that cultivating care for their employees creates love and loyalty in return.

Of course there are boundaries around personal relationships at work, but within those boundaries, there is room to recognize that the people who work for you are humans, dealing with trials and tribulations beyond the next budget meeting. Do you know when your employees have major life milestones, like a birth, death, marriage or divorce? Great leaders know that cultivating care for their employees creates love and loyalty in return.

  1. Honest leaders will keep team members. Honesty promotes confidence and trust.

Nothing inspires loyalty more than being honest. Open communication does two things: It creates confidence and trust, and also helps create feelings of inclusion. Being part of a team that works together will make any employee think twice before leaving or making a detrimental decision. Honest leaders will make team members stay much longer than they would have with a leader who hides information.

  1. The greatest leaders create loyalty through their words and actions.

The greatest leaders in the world are not revered because they demanded loyalty — they created loyalty through their words and actions. With everyday care and personal conviction, you too can create a company that is full of employees who are devoted, hard-working, and unwavering.

read more at entrepreneur.com