Catholics and non-Catholics alike have embraced Pope Francis and his humble ways. Here are a few leadership lessons from his remarkable turnaround.
Although Pope Francis was elected only 16 months ago, his impact and effect on Roman Catholics worldwide could almost be called a small miracle. The human failings of the Church have been well-documented and the perceptions have been justified, ranging from insular and aloof, to charges of criminal fraud and negligence.
But Francis, against all odds and contrary to dismal public opinion, has become a beacon of inclusion, modesty, and hope for Catholics and non-Catholics everywhere. According to a CNN Poll, 88 percent of American Catholics think he is doing a good job, and nearly 75 percent of Americans in general view him with favor.
Author Jeffrey A. Krames, a child of Holocaust survivors and not a Catholic, studied Francis from a leadership perspective, and the result is “Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis.”
Here is a partial list of Krames’ key findings:
1. Reach out to non-customers. With 1.2 billion followers, the Catholic Church has a huge customer base, but Francis appeals to non-Catholics as well, for instance by declaring that God has redeemed all of us, not just Catholics.
2. Reinvent your organization. Francis has taken on just about every faction of the Catholic Church in order to make it more inclusive. He does not fear change.
3. Be patient. Francis has shown restraint and patience. His comments on divorce, remarriage, sexual abuse, and many other topics have been well-timed and well-received.
4. Get in the field. Francis doesn’t want a pristine church, he wants a church that’s going out in the streets to find people and help them. Before becoming Pope, he would go out at night to talk with the people of Buenos Aires. He also lives in a modest staff apartment at the Vatican, not the traditional papal residence.
5. Lead by example. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis (then Bergoglio) recruited priests to the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods where even priests were kidnapped and killed. In 2009, when one of his priests received a death threat for having spoken out against drugs, Francis walked the streets, providing himself as a target for anyone wanting to retaliate. There were no other threats after that.
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