Lessons in leadership from Pope Francis

Radical leadership

Many politicians don't so much govern as self-promote, with little thought of making the world a better place. When Jorge Bergoglio was chosen as Pope, he immediately showed the world his leadership style would be different from that of his predecessors.

- AAP/Yahoo7

He said no to the fancy red loafers favoured by Pope Benedict XVI, opting for simple black shoes. He declined the papal limo for a bus ride. For living quarters, he chose the Vatican guesthouse over an apartment in the Apostolic Palace.

Author Chris Lowney has observed the behaviour of the first Jesuit Pope and used him as a case study in effective leadership. In his book Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads, Lowney writes of Bergoglio's first days as pope.

"We were not watching someone trying to act like a Pope. We were watching a person unafraid to be who he was."

And from that, Lowney draws this spot-on conclusion: "Be comfortable in your own skin. Know who you are, the good and the bad. And find the courage not just to be yourself, but to be the best version of yourself. These are the foundations of self-leadership, and all leadership starts with self-leadership because you can't lead the rest of us if you can't lead yourself".

What does Lowney say about the artifice that often masquerades as leadership? "I'd say we're kind of plagued with managers who feel like fakes a lot of the time," he said.

"You think: 'This guy is putting on an act here and trying to lead us'. And you feel like this person doesn't have his own thing figured out. Or you feel like this person is in it for themselves.

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