Pope Francis has made no secret of his intention to radically reform the administrative structures of the Catholic church, which he regards as insular, imperious, and bureaucratic. He understands that in a hyper-kinetic world, inward-looking and self-obsessed leaders are a liability.
In 2014, just before Christmas, the Pope addressed the leaders of the Roman Curia – the Cardinals and other officials who are charged with running the church’s byzantine network of administrative bodies. The Pope’s message to his colleagues was blunt. Leaders are susceptible to an array of debilitating maladies, including arrogance, intolerance, myopia, and pettiness. When those diseases go untreated, the organisation itself is enfeebled. To have a healthy church, we need healthy leaders.
Through the years, I’ve heard dozens of management experts enumerate the qualities of great leaders. Seldom, though, do they speak plainly about the “diseases” of leadership. The Pope is more forthright. He understands that as human beings we have certain proclivities – not all of them noble. Nevertheless, leaders should be held to a high standard, since their scope of influence makes their ailments particularly infectious.
The Catholic Church is an organisation, populated by good-hearted, but less-than-perfect souls. In that sense, it’s not much different than your church or organisation. That’s why the Pope’s counsel is relevant to leaders everywhere.
With that in mind, I spent a couple of hours translating the Pope’s address into something a little closer to corporate-speak. (I don’t know if there’s a prohibition on paraphrasing Papal pronouncements, but since I’m not Catholic, I’m willing to take the risk.)
Read Gary Hamel’s complete HBR article