I just read another headline about Pope Francis doing something controversial and it struck me how effectively he’s been able to lead the Catholic Church in just over a year. Without question, he exercises leadership by virtue of his position, but most of his actions hold valuable leadership lessons for anyone in any position in the organization. This time, the controversy stirred when for the second year in a row he chose an unexpected group of people for the ritual washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday. As I thought about it, there are three approaches to the Pontiff's leadership style that could apply to leaders in any position:
1. Take in the full view of things
Pope Francis sees things differently than most other leaders of the Catholic Church, especially in his inclusion of “outliers.” I am using that term to account for how he seems to focus on the poor, on the disenfranchised and even on non-Catholics more than his predecessors and possibly than the rest of the Roman Curia. As the first non-European Pope in about 2,000 years, and coming from the far southern end of the earth’s southernmost inhabited continent, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires arrived in Rome as an outlier himself.
And he hails from a country full of such outliers – it’s impossible to ignore the poverty and disenfranchisement in Argentina from decades of economic and political turmoil, especially in contrast to the prosperous and privileged parts of society that Argentina also has. As a result, it’s not surprising that the leader of the Catholic Church in Argentina would have such a broad and inclusive perspective.
Broadening your perspective beyond what might be expected of you is an effective way to exercise leadership no matter where you are on the org chart. While most jobs have clearly defined responsibilities, their impact is part of a broader ecosystem of functions so not losing sight of those broader impacts often holds the key to improving how you execute what IS expected of you. Read More