Berger Leadership Blog

Oct 02, 2015

Leadership lessons from the pope

Obama with Pope Francis 2014

Since assuming the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has carved out a distinctive leadership style. Last week, he visited New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., and made appearances before the United Nations and Congress where he reflected upon the changing tone of the Catholic Church and ideas about leadership. Though I’m not Catholic, many folks of all faiths call him the “people’s pope” – and given the way he conducts himself, it is obvious why.

My friend, Tom Connelly, shared a Fast Company article with me that presents five leadership lessons that business leaders, politicians – all types of leaders – might learn from Pope Francis.

It’s an insightful article, and I wanted to share it with you. Here are the five lessons it notes:

  1. Be accessible. The article in Fast Company, written by William Vanderbloemen, notes that Pope Francis is widely known for his availability and openness to the public. The author encourages leaders to reflect on what their most important responsibilities are – “people over processes, names over numbers.”
  2. Don’t ignore social media. “The [p]ope is a tweeting aficionado,” the article states. If you have an idea to share, consider utilizing social media to help it take root.
  3. Flatten your organization. The pope reorganized his management team, “reducing its sense of hierarchy,” Vanderbloemen writes. “Restructure, revamp and realign so that the top leadership drives the vision, and the subsequent layers can execute and sustain it.”
  4. Take risks. Don’t be “blinded by the fear of failure,” the article states. Pope Francis has taken on many risks that have given people a fresh, new perspective on the Catholic doctrine.
  5. Value input from subordinates. Pope Francis has made clear his focus on people and relationships. Leaders should do the same with those in their organizations.