Francis may be a self-described “sinner”, but he is, without question, the right man for the right job at the right time; and the planets seldom align themselves as neatly as they have for this modest yet brilliant figure, according to Jeffrey Krames in his book Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis. The author even describes Francis as the anti-Hitler, the twenty-first century’s answer to the twentieth century’s most malevolent mass murderer.
The author is not a Catholic, or even a Christian, so it seems somewhat odd that he should have written a panegyric on the Pope, although leadership books do tend to indulge in some hero worship. Pope Francis clearly is good at leading by example, he demonstrates an admirable degree of humility, he has a gospel-centred vision for the Roman Catholic Church, and he possesses political astuteness. Otherwise, he is a normal man with a very difficult job.
The book draws a number of lessons from the example of Pope Francis, such as “Smell like your flock”, “Make inclusion a top priority”, “Avoid insularity”, “Choose pragmatism over ideology”, “Run your organisation like a field hospital”, and “Pay attention to non-customers”. While these can be useful business practices in appropriate circumstances, I am not sure they are universally applicable.
Having said that, the book does provide an interesting introduction to Pope Francis’s background and philosophy, and it does invite interesting reflection on the extent to which his leadership virtues could be embraced within a business context.