Leadership, Life and Organisational Success: Powerful Lessons from Pope Francis

Leadership

You might find it strange to feature a religious leader on a business blog. Yet, leaders, business owners, people from all backgrounds and religions can learn powerful lessons from the pope’s character and his different approach toward leading 1.2 billion Catholic believers.

Few Popes have won the hearts and minds of people of all convictions like Pope Francis has.

Here are a couple of things you can learn from the pope about leadership, life and organisational success:

Focus on providing value and service

Let us never forget that authentic power is service- Pope Francis

pope francisSome of the most memorable acts by the pope are those that involve him serving others. From cleaning the feet of disabled people, embracing a convicted Muslim woman,  and spending time with teenagers who are addicted to illicit drugs, he knows that these things are not just a  requirement; he is setting  a good example for the millions of people who look up to him for leadership.

People naturally admire those who demonstrate servant leadership. At the same time, whether you are leading a team or selling a product, you will only be successful to the extent that you are offering something of value and you are dedicated to providing good service.

Adopt an attitude of flexibility and an openness to change

“Let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent”- Pope Francis

Resistance to the flow of life can cause tremendous pain. In the same way, when you resist change in other spheres such as in business, in your outlook or in personal relationships you will likely alienate yourself from better prospects.

Without a doubt, it can be difficult to accept change, to let go of an old idea or an old way of doing things that seemed to work. But with flexibility and change comes opportunities for better ideas that could make you a better person.

Rose Fass, author of The Chocolate Conversation: Lead Bittersweet Change, Transform Your Business, says change is bittersweet but this realization alone allows you to be prepared to deal with the difficult aspects of changing.

Pope Francis’s approach to some of the most controversial issues facing society is certainly a change from past canon. His approach has been dubbed a ‘refreshing change.”

For example, his take on people’s sexual orientation has been one of understanding and inclusiveness, quite a distinction from the view of the mainstream church.

Accept that you do not have all the answers

“If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof… that he is a false prophet. The great leaders…have always left room for doubt.”

Leading a life of humility is perhaps easier said than done especially in what can sometimes be a cut-throat world. It is even more difficult for leaders who are expected to be aggressive to lead with humility.

Rather it is an ability to remain down-to-earth, realistically assess your strengths and weaknesses and to have the willingness to help others.  More importantly, humility is the realization that others know better than you do sometimes and that you could use their help.

humOne might expect the pope to know everything about leading the church. With his accomplishments, you might also expect him to demand high treatment but he doesn’t.

Upon his election, the pope appointed the Vatican 8, an advisory panel to help him with decision-making. This is something that has never been done before in the history of papacy. Yet, his appointment of a board of directors is recognition that he needs other people’s input to be able to do his work better.

Cultivate a sense of authenticity

According to Rob Goffee an emeritus professor at the London Business School and Gareth Jones a professor at the IE Business School in Madrid, authenticity is an ability to embody your beliefs.

An authentic person is one whose deeds are consistent with their words. Additionally, authenticity is being able to create a common ground with others by understanding different contexts.

Although Pope Francis has expressed a slightly different outlook on certain issues such as gay marriage and contraception, he is still true to his own faith.

He may have slightly different convictions from those of conservatives but he is not trying to change doctrine or his religious beliefs just so he can be popular. He is true to his beliefs which sometimes means not pleasing everybody.

Leadership Lessons

Powerful leaders focus on servant leadership and providing exceptional value. They have a flexible attitude and can be open to change. They understand that there is always room for doubt and could be wrong. They are authentic and take action that is consistent with their beliefs.

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