Pope Francis is the fourth pope set to visit the United States. Later this month, Pope Francis will visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington during his trip. In the Fall of 1965, Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit the US on official papal duty. While these apostolic sojourns of the highest ranking official in the Catholic church is particularly exciting for very religious people, as well as for people who aren’t terribly religious. Whenever a religious figure of this caliber makes a trip to your home country, that offers a chance for you to reflect on what kinds of lessons and values this person represents. It affords everyone the opportunity to consider the life and work of this person and how this may apply to their own life.
In the case of Pope Francis, there are many lessons to be learned regarding leadership, owing to the skills and talents that he has displayed throughout his years of service. While some of those qualities may seem particularly evident now that he has ascended to the role of the pope, seedlings of his distinctive leadership style can be found throughout his life.
Follow Your Passion
In the case of Pope Francis, he upset his mother when he chose to study theology in lieu of medicine. When he eventually entered the seminary, she wouldn’t go with him because she did not agree with his choice. Although she eventually grew to accept her son’s interest in religion, there was a time when Bergoglio chose his belief in his passion at the expense of familial approval. Jorge was unwavering in his commitment and interest in learning about theology – and continued to learn and develop within that field in spite of this obstacle.
Strong Leadership and Humility Needn’t be Mutually Exclusive
Leaders are often painted as a demanding and sometimes bullish bunch, particularly in business. However, Pope Francis, is a model in how to lead while remaining humble. It’s well chronicled that when Pope Francis was appointed as the JEsuit Provincial for all of Argentina and Uruguay, he was often criticized for his inexperience and autocratic style of leadership. He received such criticism because he took this role when these Jesuits were divided on the ideology and vision behind the future of the religion. It was widely noted that after this experience, Pope Francis deferred to a more humble style of leadership that allowed room for other voices to be heard. The ability to not only lead, but to listen is very important for those in the business world as it is in a religious context.
Practice What You Preach
Bergoglio realized the growing problem with the poor within his own country. As a result of this, he increased the number of priests who served within the slums of Buenos Aires by four hundred percent. Instead of talking about these problems in theory and on a large scale, he contributed directly solutions on a local level. In addition to getting more priests into these underserved areas, Bergoglio supported community groups and organizations trying to better the lives of these people. Bergoglio also decided to embody this principle of humility by living modestly.
At first blush, it may not seem like the work of a religious leader should be applied to business practices. However, those looking to further their careers in business should consider the values and considered demeanor of religious figures like Pope Francis.