Pope Francis, A New Model of Leadership

Newly elected Pope Francis

Newly elected Pope Francis.

Congratulations to the Roman Catholic Church for such a quick consensus around a new leader. Such a quick consensus shows that Pope Francis is well known and highly regarded by his colleagues. He’s not a Vatican insider. Reaching out signals a willingness to try to change the Church.

I have been traveling and in meetings the past two days, so I’m a little behind in news and study. But following a page from Bill Hybels and my schedule that I wrote about recently, I put on my schedule meetings with Wyatt and Arianna (5 and 3 years old, respectively). Gotta do that once in a while. Oh, had some business meetings, too.

Most of my information comes from unreliable sources–ABC, CNN, The New York Times–but the consensus of the reports about Francis’ lifestyle and leadership are heartening to me. I have great respect for Benedict. He has a brilliant theological mind. But he also was a Vatican insider.

What I’ve read about Francis is that he exhibits a humble leadership by example and a passion for bringing the Church into the 21st Century. Certainly there is a crisis of confidence in the Catholic church as there is within all most all Christendom. Whether we are Catholic or not, the Pope is a leading spokesperson for the faith. He’s an important leader.

We read and write much about new styles of leadership, but humans being humans, we just can’t seem to bridge the gap from the old authoritarian models (“Teamwork means you all doing what I say”) with the trappings of wealth and power to a model of humble leadership. At 76 years of age, I would think that Francis should be pretty well comfortable in his style and remain uncorrupted by the pomp and circumstance foisted off on leaders by the bureaucracy.

I grew up with the mantra that if only women gained power in organizations then things would be different. I have yet to see that happen. The difference between women and men when achieving great power in large organizations seems negligible right now. Maybe a 76-yr-old celibate male priest can show the way.

I hope so.

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