Skip to main content
Employee Spotlight

Balancing Business and Belief

Jeff Thompson has made a career of studying how leaders balance competing priorities. He is also a study in balance himself. As he splits his time between teaching in the MPA program and directing BYU’s new Sorensen Center for Moral and Ethical Leadership, Thompson helps others discover how Christ-centered leadership can steer decisions and stabilize organizations.

Jeff Thompson

Thompson has been a mainstay of BYU Marriott for more than 20 years, even though his first experience in the business world was unsettling. As a young MBA student, he found his internship environment to be “corrosive, corrupt, and very competitive.” Thompson recalls, “I was just flabbergasted. I thought, ‘Is this what business is? Because I can’t do this.’”

The experience inspired Thompson to study ethics and organizational behavior and to become a professor. “I came out of that internship with a desire to better equip people to face tough situations in the business world,” he says, “and also with a goal to make organizations safer for people to express values.”

Thompson’s work at BYU Marriott and the Sorensen Center has helped him pursue that goal. The center is a university-wide initiative dedicated to inspiring and equipping individuals to lead people as Christ does. The Christ-Centered Leader Model, which Thompson helped develop, is at the core of its work.

Christ-centered leader chart

The model helps Thompson explore the tension between competing demands that leaders face in the workplace. “Disciplining employees and letting employees go does not feel very Christlike,” he acknowledges. “We may become so committed to caring for ‘the one’ that we do something that hurts the organization. Leaders are placed in really difficult positions as they try to balance all of those things.”

Anchoring Christ at the center of the model’s four quadrants—and at the center of our lives—can bring that balance, Thompson explains. “If you’re going to be a Christ-centered leader, you can’t just give weight to the demands of your stewardship and your boss. You must weigh those against the demands of your God.”

Thompson’s commitment to developing, sharing, and applying this model profoundly impacts his MPA students and the 50 student employees and 8 professional staff members he oversees at the Sorensen Center, which also influences the people who those individuals touch. This ripple effect can transform and edify families, congregations, communities, organizations, and society as a whole. “The response to the model has been amazing,” Thompson shares. “People have been really hungry for it. It helps define what we have to say to the world.”


Written by Shannon Keeley

This article was published in BYU Marriott's 2023 Annual Report, page 22.