Pope Francis appears to be providing a leadership role model that could be utilized by the Catholic Church and governing bodies around the world in these times. He personifies greatness in leadership through caring actions, positive relationships hope and change.
Pope Francis comes with a history of touching and interacting with the people he leads. His aim to continue this necessary leadership behavior is evident. He does not hide behind grandiose pomp and circumstance. He appears to shun lavishness when it is possible He reaches out and engages people.
He is strategic but trustworthy. His visits are well calculated to get the most bang for the buck. His trip to Brazil illustrates that. Brazil has the largest percentage of Catholics in South America. He is intent on assessing the Catholic Church, addressing its flaws while enabling it to meet its congregational needs throughout the world. He is an action leader who speaks out. He is critical of the idolatry of money. He chastises the corporate economy for its role in creating and sustaining the gap between the rich and poor. His leadership style and behavior is reminiscent of Jesus, Gandhi and King.
He encourages youth to empower themselves through their actions because they are our future leaders. He is embracing all humanity with his caring actions. He is not testing the water. He is diving in and inviting those he leads to follow. When he speaks, it is not campaign rhetoric. He appears to aspire to have a missionary rather than a Vatican-centric church. Wow! What a statement of reformation. What a caring leader! Leaders at every level could take some lessons from him, showing they really care, creating genuine relationships and following through on promises. Other church leaders at all levels would do well to copy this kind of leadership.
Pope Francis wants to correct questionable practices occurring in the Vatican with maximum transparency. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other leaders we know would emulate this trait?
We could all take some lessons from the pope. We are all leaders in some context i.e., family, among friends, at church and in our community. We can all put caring into action, establish positive relationships with everyone we encounter and speak out on our interest and the interest of others.
In this technological age, we easily distance ourselves from each other. We also appear to exhibit less genuine responsibility for each other. All leadership is affected by this geographical and technological difference in our lives. Frequency of text and email messages doesn't replace the genuine expression of caring we formerly relied on. A touch or, eye-to-eye contact or the sound of a voice can enhance a relationship considerably and cannot be replaced by a text or email. A genuine relationship with those who are governed can result in the kind of leadership exemplified by Pope Francis.
William E. "Gene" Robertson is a Columbia resident and a professor emeritus at MU. He writes an occasional column for the Missourian.