The Seven Leadership Practices of Pope Francis

Pope Francis why he leads the way he leads  chris lowney  servant spiritual leadershipWell obviously the new pope has more than SEVEN leadership practices, but Chris Lowney identifies seven core practices of this Jesuit formed Pope Francis. These practices are illustrated nicely in Lowney's new book, Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads. Here they are with super brief explanations.

ONE. Deep self-awareness...
That is gained through the pathways of spiritual formation, including prayer, spiritual friendship, daily examen, lingering, soaking sacred readings of Scripture, and more. Psychologist/researcher, Daniel Goleman identified self-awareness as the first step for emotionally intelligent leadership. The Bible goes further and affirms that it is essential for spiritually wise leadership. This is self-leadership.

TWO:  It is not about you and you must go WAY outside yourself...
Contrary to popular and prevailing opinion, leadership is NEVER about your agenda, your interests, your needs, etc. True leadership is always for the sake of others. True leaders concentrate on the needs of others and the best and most beautiful visions are for others. NOTE: This is so much harder then you think. For most leaders, most of the time, it is about what the leaders wants done. This is servant leadership at its core.

THREE:  Immerse yourself in the world...
That is what it means to be missional, what it means to be a servant, what it means to be "for the other. Leaders are always incarnate in the midst of real people in real time. A disconnected leader is not a leader. You can't lead from a distance (at least not well). You can't discern reality behind a desk. You can't inspire troops by dispatching email memos. Real leaders are immersed in the lives of people. This is missional leadership.

FOUR:  Withdraw daily from the world...
No this is not contradicting what I just said. It is a complement of what was just said. You can only be for the sake of others, sustained over time, if you have wonderful rhythms of withdraw to connect deeply with God. This is one of the distinctives of the Jesuits. They were not contemplatives who lived behind monastic walls (there is a place for this). the Jesuits were missional servant-leaders who moved through the corridors of the world. But it was a hard, demanding, challenging and suffering filled world. Therefore, the Jesuits learned how to have times of withdraw (daily) to connect deeply with God their Source. They also learned how to "find God in all things" and connect with God in the midst of missional activity. This is why Jesuit spirituality and missionality is so suitable for evangelicals. This is spiritual leadership.

FIVE & SIX:  Live in the present and revere your tradition...
These are so intertwined I mention them together (as does Lowney). We are shaped by the past, we value the past, we learn from the past, and we find creative, innovative ways to bring the BEST OF THE PAST into the immediacy of today. The past must not be forgotten. Nor must it be slavishly reproduced. Today is the day, this is the moment to be seized and fully experience. This is faithful leadership and relevant leadership.

SEVEN:  Shape a new future...
This one is the flip side of the previous leadership lesson. Leaders do not live in the future, but they sure see it, prepare for it, and move toward it. Learn from and represent the past, live fully in the moment and lead toward tomorrow. A challenging tension and balance - and the essence of the kind of leadership needed for today's epic issues and wicked complex problems. This is visionary and strategic leadership.

These are Seven Leadership perspectives, mindsets, practices Pope Francis learned in his long decades of formation and ministry as a Jesuit. These are the ways he brings to the enormously complicated problems facing the church he leads (which in many ways is a mess and facing an uncertain future). 

train pastors Pope Francis

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International
BrianRice@lcileaders.org

LCI - helping you lead with the right kind of leadership.