Mayan King and Scribe

I write this while on vacation in Mexico. The resort is beautiful, the people kind and the land a spectacle. But the government, economy and legal systems struggle with some of the worst corruption in the world. It was not always this way.

Lack of Leadership Today

While on our way to tour the historic Mayan city-state, Chichen Itza, our tour guide, a normally cheerful individual, hit a very somber note. He warned of the swarm of vendors that would pester us during our visit. It seems, this was against the law – selling wares at historic sites. But unfortunately, he explained, “our government is so corrupt, that big businesses pay off officials to enable these vendors on our most sacred and historic sites.” He was right: there was a swarm of vendors that soured the experience and desecrated the landmark.

From Servant Leadership Origins

Now, the Mayans, who built the vast temples on that sacred ground, reflected a very different leadership than what governs their land today. Among the many stories told by our guide were self-sacrifice, protection of the people and service to the community at all costs. Were they perfect? Of course not. The ancient Mayan beliefs make it difficult to seem fair to many of us. But they did practice a greater sense of servant leadership than many of their present day successors.

To be fair to the vendors, the difficult economy makes tourism a rare source of income. Therefore, we must look to the government and other leaders of nations, with such high levels of corruption, to demand a change.  The current Mexican leadership claims a promise to fight corruption. Perhaps they should look to their historic, Mayan roots for ideas.

Question: Does your organization look to it’s past for strong leadership principles?