The Idea: How can a man leading an organization that is 21 centuries old, drenched in symbols and hierarchy connect with so many people? What can we all learn from the magic of how Pope Francis embraces others? This week he walked into the two most powerful cities in North America – New York and Washington – and he brought leadership to tears. People revere him because of his spirit, neither because of his title nor church dogma. He has a remarkable approach that calls out the very best in others. It’s more than a faith; its peace and humility.
Pope Francis seems to connect with almost everyone on a deep – almost raw – level, even those who aren’t Catholic. Part of his magic is because of his grassroots approach to serving. He is a man who gets his hands dirty, working to include others who are out in the streets. He is a listener, yet challenges us all on tough moral issues, but doesn’t rely on shame or power to influence.
In particular, three parts of his character make him so dynamic. They are applicable to everyone:
- He is centered in his mission, and he is not seduced by power, politics or other people. He embodies his mission. His walk is bathed in humility, selflessness and serving others less fortunate than him. By seeing the weak, he speaks to the strong (and powerful).
- He never confronts others who oppose him; instead, he invites them to rediscover the truth. Francis speaks to people’s heart and their higher self. He listens to their personal story and looks to deposit hope and renewal in others. He offers a mysterious quality of calling out one’s best.
- He shows the world what he values, whether it is dining with the homeless, hugging a child with special needs, or loving dictators as a means of turning them in a different direction. He understands the power of symbols and respecting other people’s symbols.
Pope Francis’s leadership story is about shepherding everyone. He is a transformational leader pointing others to the mission of service and the power of a higher source.
More importantly, he asks others to rethink their definition of success.