One of my favorite people to have lunch with is Sr. Gertrude Foley, a former President of the Sisters of Charity. I consider her to be one of my mentors, especially in matters concerning systems thinking. We’ve spoken about many things over the years, including the importance of defining processes and elements within a larger systemic framework, determining proper nomenclature, and developing a common lexicon to improve the ability to effectively communicate about ideas. We’ve also centered many energizing conversations on leadership, and what constitutes effective leadership today.
And that’s seems to be when our conversations turn to focus on Pope Francis. His leadership is, in a word, authentic. What does that mean? If we look at it as an emergent principle, there are five elements which could comprise the system that creates authenticity: grounded, inspired, simple, passionate, and humble.
Pope Francis is grounded in the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic Faith when it comes to relationship with God and following the example of Jesus Christ. His words and actions are inspired in the true meaning of the word. Inspire means “to breathe in,” and it is our action of breathing in that continues to give us life. Inspiration comes from the Spirit, and therefore, inspire means to give life. Certainly, the words and actions of Pope Francis give life, and inspire millions of people, whether or not they consider themselves to be Catholic. His life and needs are simple, opting for frugality rather than opulence that has traditionally accompanied the papacy. Lastly, service is his passion, and while he is celebrated, does not seek the spotlight, and prefers to carry out his ministry in humility.
He’s also not afraid to say what needs to be said. Recall that during an annual Christmas event in Rome, his comments sharply rebuked an audience of top church officials for their shortcomings. His comments took the cardinals, bishops and priests of the Curia by surprise. Sometimes leaders need to say what needs to be said, even thought the message might be difficult to hear.
Next week, a little more how authenticity figures into leadership necessary for today’s faith-based schools. Think, “PEACE.”
© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2012-2019