5 lessons business leaders can learn from Pope
There’s no denying that Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines was a resounding success, given the massive turnout of the faithful who braved the rain in the streets and attended the Mass he led the Quirino Grandstand.
Above all, his messages were reverberating, touching not only Catholics.
The main theme of his pastoral visit, anchored on mercy and compassion, challenged everyone to walk the talk. Pope Francis’ evangelical style was not ceremonial – it was largely practical.
His simplicity, humility, and empathy provided a good example of how we too can “think well, feel well, and do well” to affect change in our own lives and our communities.
In his homily at the Manila Cathedral, he encouraged us to “create “circles of integrity, networks of solidarity which can embrace and transform society.”
Very notably, the Pope was an advocate of inclusion and harmony. His challenges echo true to all.
The following traits that Pope Francis showed can also be best applied by leaders and managers in the business sector.
It helped that the Pope is charming and charismatic but his leadership style was the strongest magnet for the flock to seek him, to brave the elements, and listen to his words.
He is soft to those who need help but unafraid to shake the establishment.
At the Tacloban Mass attended by a storm drenched crowd, he said: “When I saw from Rome the catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here and on those very days I decided to come here.”
He further added, “Father, you might say to me, I was let down because I have lost so many things, my house, my livelihood. It’s true, if you would say that, and I respect those sentiments,” words of encouragement only a sincere leader can utter.
At the University of Santo Tomas (UST), he invited the youth to learn the language of empathy. “This is the first thing I want to say: let us learn to weep as she has shown today and let us not forget this lesson…The response that we can make today is: let us really learn how to weep.”
In Malacañang, the Philippines’ bastion of power, he challenged government leaders to “reject every form of corruption which diverts resources from the poor, and to make concerted efforts to ensure the inclusion of every man and woman and child in the life of the community."
His marching order to the bishops and priests “not to take out the poor from the Gospel” is the seamless weaving of this spiritual but practical leadership principle. He said, “only by becoming poor ourselves, by stripping our complacency, we will be able to identify with the least of our brothers and sister.”
Pope Francis’ connection with the people is stronger when he talks from the heart.
When he gave his rejoinder to the messages of the youth – though he admitted that he did not know how to answer the little girl’s question – he exhibited his acute skill in listening and understanding. He demonstrated honesty, he did not claim to know what he did not know.
“When they posed this question to us…our response must either be silence or a word that is born of our tears,” he said. Repeatedly, he showed us that sometimes, reflective silence is the better way to communicate.
For business leaders and managers, how many times have we refused to listen and understand what our people, organizations, and communities need?
Courage and humility
In Tacloban and Palo, he chose to meet with the victims of the Bohol earthquake and Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan). Despite cutting his trip short due to then Tropical Storm Amang, he met with them briefly and listened to their plight.
As Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle put it, he was there to listen, rather than to preach. The Pope said, “this trip is for me.” We see that he was trying to bravely immerse in the situation, trying to humbly learn the lesson.
We saw not showmanship – or pakitang-tao. What we may learn from his example is how to take responsibility in everything that we do. Can we bravely stand for the right business decisions? Do we practice fairness to all stakeholders involved? Do we humbly learn from them?
Before his message to the youth, he showed how deeply he regrets hearing the news of one volunteer’s demise in Tacloban. Later in the day, he met with the Holy Father to personally condole with him.
This small act provided us a compelling example of how to take responsibility. It takes strong guts to say sorry, own up to the wrongs committed, and alleviate the damage.
In his undelivered message to the youth, he also enjoined everyone to take responsibility to protect the environment: “As stewards of God’s creation, we are called to make the earth a beautiful garden for the human family. When we destroy our forests, ravage our soil and pollute our seas, we betray that noble calling.”
As the Pope returned safely to Rome, it is time to make sense, reflect on his messages.
How do we live the lessons that he shared with us?
Will it be business as usual, or will we improve to become better leaders, managers, and individuals? – Rappler.com
Ken Lerona is a Marketing Communications professional with more than 10 years of extensive experience in strategic and tactical aspects of marketing including below-the-line activation, above-the-line campaigns, and online efforts. His background covers various industries –from FMCG, real estate, retail and leisure, and telecommunications.