Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

On March 13, 2013, 115 cardinals cast votes inside the Vatican to elect the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  At 19:06 local time, white smoke could be seen drifting upwards following the election.  The new pope, who would take the name Pope Francis, emerged from the conclave as the new leader of a global organization facing a number of serious issues.

Stepping onto the world stage, this new pope would inspire everyone with his humility and his concern for the poor.  And, in so doing, he demonstrated a new model for leadership.

 

“Leadership is the ability to articulate a vision and get others to carry it out.” -Jeffrey Krames

 

Jeffrey Krames has written a new book about the pontiff, Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope FrancisHe offers a practical guide for how any leader can take the same principles to become an authentic and humble leader.  I asked Jeff a few questions about his research.

 

Be Authentic.

What is it about Pope Francis that has made him so incredibly popular?

He is absolutely the real thing. I call him “The Authentic Leader.” How rare is that today? No political leaders seem to do anything for the betterment of anyone but themselves, and only after polling the issue. That is the opposite of Pope Francis, who is the most compassionate pope I have experienced in my lifetime. It is why I have dubbed him the “anti-Hitler.”

 

“If we can develop a truly humble attitude, we can change the world.” -Pope Francis

 

 

Advocate for the Least of These

What attracted and inspired you, as a Jewish author, to research and write a book about the new Catholic pope?

The answer above answers this question in part. Growing up in a “Holocaust household” is a very difficult thing to do.  There are ghosts of all the people who have perished (and now my kids must grow up as third generation survivor).  So I see Francis as the first person in my lifetime amazing enough to earn the moniker of the anti-Hitler.  He is the 21st century’s answer to the 20th century’s most malevolent mass-murderer.  Hitler hated and attempted to eradicate what he felt was society’s worst.  Francis works every day to lift up the people who have the least—the ones who have been relegated to “society’s dustbin.”

 

12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis

  1.  Lead with Humility.
  2. Smell Like Your Flock.
  3. Who Am I to Judge?
  4. Don’t Change-Reinvent.
  5. Make Inclusivity a Top Priority
  6. Avoid Insularity.
  7. Choose Pragmatism over Ideology.
  8. The Optics of Decision-Making.
  9. Run Your Organization Like a Field Hospital.
  10. Live on the Frontier.
  11. Overcoming vs. Sidestepping Adversity.
  12. Pay Attention to Non-Customers.

 

 

 

Pope Francis continues to gain popularity and press every month.  How will Pope Francis influence leaders in other organizations?

Serve to Be Great: 7 Lessons from Matt Tenney

We all make mistakes.  When we learn from those mistakes, we are said to be wise.  When we not only learn from those mistakes, but also then decide to use the experience to better the world, we become an inspiring example of what is possible.  When we make serving others our primary goal, our view of the world shifts and new possibilities emerge.

I am excited to introduce Matt Tenney, who has written a terrific new book, Serve to Be Great.  I’m always looking to learn from others, and here are a few lessons I learned from Matt’s powerful story:

 

“There is no better way to build our influence with others than to serve them.” –Matt Tenney

 

1. You can create happiness anywhere.

Few people have experienced the depths of despair like Matt Tenney.  His failure landed him in prison for years.  And yet, in prison, Matt learned to be happier in a cell than he was when he was free.

 

“Leaders who consider others’ needs first are more likely to empower employees.” –Matt Tenney

 

2. Your greatest failure may be your life’s greatest catalyst for change.

As I spent time with Matt, I could see that his zest for life and appreciation for everything around him was somehow different.  Undoubtedly this came from experiencing the loss of all that he knew.

 

“Asking ‘How will this help me to serve others?’ makes us more effective and happier leaders.” –Matt Tenney

3. When you change your self-talk, you change your world.

Reading Matt’s terrific new book, Serve to Be Great, I noticed that his self-talk changed throughout his story.  As he planned a crime, he was justifying his actions.  Now, his self-talk is all about how he can serve others.

 

 

“Being fully present with a person is one of the most effective ways to show that we care.” –Matt Tenney

 

4.  Learn how to change selfishness to selflessness.

Matt is constantly asking himself this question: “How will this help me to serve others?”  By focusing everything outward, it changes his motivation and the trajectory of his actions.  Matt’s goal is to be the most kind, compassionate person he can be.  Get around him and you will find that you, too, want to be more compassionate.

 

“Wisdom is much more likely to develop while we are still than when we are in motion.” –Matt Tenney

5.  Service leads to greatness.

Leaders who lead with love are the ones we remember.  Among the many examples Matt shares in his keynote speech is Joel Manby, who wrote Love Works.  Joel is a CEO, featured on Undercover Boss, who leads with love.  When leaders serve with love, the positive impact creates sustainable success.

“The more focused I became on how I could serve others, the happier I became.” –Matt Tenney

 

6.  Notice the extraordinary small moments.

Previously, Matt wrote a guest post for Leadership Insights about what he learned about leadership from Daniel.  Daniel was a teenager dying from cancer, and yet he taught lessons that still make Matt emotional.

“Every time we interact with another, we have the opportunity to add value to a life.” –Matt Tenney

7.  In stillness, you can change your state of mind, your present and your future.

Practicing mindfulness and awareness training, which he learned from monks, is important for leaders.  Lowering stress, becoming focused, and increasing your compassion for others is all possible through the practices he shares in his book.

Last week, I spent some time with Matt.  I had the opportunity to watch him keynote for industry executives.  I watched him interact with people from all walks of life.  And I learned from his story.  I think you will enjoy Matt’s story and his book.

As I wrote in a blurb he included in the book: Serve to Be Great is both inspiring and practical.  Matt Tenney delivers a powerful narrative that takes you on an incredible journey.  The insights from that journey and the examples he shares of truly great leaders will improve your performance, widen your perspective, and raise your leadership game.”

Because service does lead to greatness.  And servant leadership is the best form of leadership there is.

Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom

9 Leadership Lessons from Mom

 

In my very first blog post, I shared the unique way I grew up.  Instead of filling our home with things, my parents filled it with people.

Our childhood home was always open.  There was always room for one more person at the table.  We had countless people live with us of all nationalities, backgrounds, and religions.  Some would stay a night, but most would stay months.  A few stayed for years.  Most of our adopted family members arrived with serious needs and issues from drug addiction to abuse to serious psychiatric needs.

As I reflect on Mother’s Day, celebrated on Sunday May 11, I think about the lessons I learned from my parents.  And, just as my mom prefers to give to others more than receiving gifts, I thought I would share that spirit and pass these lessons on.  Today I honor her with more than flowers by sharing her wisdom.

 

1. Personal power is more important than positional power.

 

As I reflect on my childhood, I cannot think of a single time that my mom used her “positional” power as parent.  But she always used her personal power, her persuasion, and her personality to influence.  Anything I learned about how to relate to people started by watching her in action.

Even today, my mom is never interested in titles or your position.  She is interested in you.  What is your story?  What are your talents?  What are you doing for others?

 

Leadership is not a position. It radiates from within. -Skip Prichard

 

2. Giving to others will always make you happier than receiving.

 

Yes, we’ve all heard that it is better to give than to receive.  But why?  Mom taught me that happiness is always rooted in service to others.  I’ve seen people with depression improve dramatically when they serve others.

Mom was always happy, always singing, always sharing.  And that may be because she was always giving—to us, to friends, and to all of the people she met each day.  Our house was always full of people in need, and so the opportunity to give was always present.  She is still the same way today as she was then.

 

Leaders give of themselves more than they take from others. -Skip Prichard

 

3.  The spiritual is more important than the temporal.

 

Some things are temporary, fleeting, lasting but a moment.  Other things are forever.  Make sure you are spending time on what matters in the long run.  One of the very few rules I can remember was this:  If you needed a place to stay, you were welcome to stay as long as you needed.  But, you were required to attend church with the family.  There is something powerful about connecting to forces greater than you.

One of the verses she would share with me was Colossians 3:2: “Set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth.”Mrs. Prichard

Here is one story my wife recalls about my mom:  Someone was staying in the house and she was learning a new skill for a job:  How to cut hair.  As I recall, she was somewhat troubled and my mom was counseling her.  Mom volunteered to let her practice her newly learned skills.  The girl transformed her hair, butchering it on one side.  Instead of anger, my mom graciously turned to her in love.  As she poured love on this girl, she taught us all what really matters.

 

Leaders realize what is forever and what is fleeting. -Skip Prichard

 

4.  The heart is greater than things.

 

If you broke something—even something precious to her—she didn’t care much.  Sweep it up, throw it out, and it was long forgotten.  But, if your heart was broken, she spent as many hours with you as you needed.  She would agonize with you.  If you were broken in spirit, she would encourage and lift you out of a dark place.  She still does.

4 Leadership Lessons From a Coach, a Dream and a Miracle

This is a guest post by Dave Arnold. Dave is an author, speaker, leader, and blogger. He is the author of Pilgrims of the Alley: Living out Faith in Displacement (Urban Loft Publishing) You can also follow him on Twitter.

Herb Brooks was an incredible leader. He was a coach with a vision, a vision that led a group of college kids to beat the Soviet Union in ice hockey and go on to win the gold in the 1980 Winter Olympics. Deemed the “Miracle on Ice,” the United States’ win against the Soviets is considered one of the greatest sports moments in history. Herb Brooks wasn’t afraid to push his players, to help them believe they had what it takes. As a result, his team beat the greatest hockey team in the world. As I look back at my life, the leaders who made the most impact on me were the ones who believed in me enough to push me. They pushed me out of my comfort zone. They helped me become a better leader and, ultimately, a better person. As a leader, one of the greatest ways to impact people is by helping them believe they have what it takes. So what does that look like? Here are four lessons we can learn from Herb Brooks and his vision:

See

1. Look at people’s potential, at what they could be. Herb Brooks did this well. He not only saw a group of talented hockey players from Boston and Minnesota, he saw a team. He saw potential. He believed if he pushed enough and inspired enough, he could pull out their greatness. And that’s exactly what happened.

Encourage

2. Never underestimate the power of encouragement. As leaders, it’s easy to fall into the mode of expecting people to do certain tasks or fulfill certain roles. This is especially true in organizations. But when we are intentional about encouraging people, noticing them, and telling them they’re appreciated, it motivates them to want to keep going and give their best.

What A Teenager Dying of Cancer Taught Me About Leadership

This is a guest post by Matt Tenney. As an author and a speaker, Matt shares insights from his journey as a prisoner, monk, and social entrepreneur. He teaches leaders how to improve by focusing on service to others. You can also follow him on Twitter.

As inspired as I often am by the heroes I meet through the work I do with Kids Kicking Cancer, I never thought that I would learn incredible lessons about leadership from a patient in a pediatric cancer unit. But earlier this year, that’s exactly what happened.

I had the pleasure of meeting a teenager named Daniel. It didn’t take long to realize that he is one of the most kind, polite, and positive people I have ever met. He has also lived an incredibly challenging life.

Years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery, went through the hell of chemo and radiation therapies, and left the hospital free of cancer thinking that he would live the rest of his life without having to worry about it.

But, within a couple years, the cancer came back. He went through the hell again, and again left the hospital thinking he was finally done with being sick.

This time, though, when the cancer came back, it was everywhere. He was told that there was nothing that could be done to treat it and that he would probably only live a few more months. I spent time with him minutes after he had received this news. It was obvious that he had cried.

It’s OK for leaders to cry.

He told me that he hadn’t started to cry until he saw his mother crying. Apparently, being told you’re going to die is not that bad. What really hurts, he said, is seeing those you love deal with the fact that they’re going to lose you soon.

Despite this news, Daniel still came to the class I led that day. In fact, he was the first to arrive and the last to leave. He was incredibly positive during the class and was a great role model for the younger students.

Great leaders continue to lead by example even when things are really, really tough.