Pope Francis’s 15 Diseases of Leadership

diseases of leadershipYou may have heard about Pope Francis’s recent travels, speeches and teachings, but one address in particular is relevant to all of us in business. In it, he outlined what he sees as 15 Diseases of Leadership, and boy are they relevant to our leadership culture today. You can read the descriptions of all 15 diseases at the link above, in an article by Gary Hamel of the Harvard Business Review. Hamel also devised 15 questions for you to answer about your leadership maladies based on his paraphrasing of the Pope so you can see if you suffer from any of them. He asks that you rate yourself on a scale from 1 to 5, so consider, to what extent do you:

  1. Feel superior to those who work for me?
  2. Demonstrate an imbalance between work and other areas of life?
  3. Substitute formality for true human intimacy?
  4. Rely too much on plans and not enough on intuition and improvisation?
  5. Spend too little time breaking silos and building bridges?
  6. Fail to regularly acknowledge the debt I owe to my mentors and to others?
  7. Take too much satisfaction in my perks and privileges?
  8. Isolate myself from customers and first-level employees?
  9. Denigrate the motives and accomplishments of others?
  10. Exhibit or encourage undue deference and servility?
  11. Put my own success ahead of the success of others?
  12. Fail to cultivate a fun and joy-filled work environment?
  13. Exhibit selfishness when it comes to sharing rewards and praise?
  14. Encourage parochialism rather than community?
  15. Behave in ways that seem egocentric to those around me?

After you’ve taken the inventory for yourself, and realized “there is no drug for what ails you,” ask your staff or peers to also give you a ranking. Compare the two and you may find you may be suffering a lot more than you think you are.

What’s interesting about the assessment, other than a true moment of humility for those of us who lead others and forget ourselves sometimes, is that it so closely aligns with Jim Collin’s Good to Great Level 5 Leaders. All the qualities that he describes in leaders of great companies, (most of whom we will never know the names of), are described by Pope Francis. The Pope is talking to his flock, his Cardinals, his priests and leaders in the Catholic Church, but he is also talking to all of us, regardless of religion, race, gender, political party or any other barrier that keeps us separated from one another.

So why do we persist in thinking we’re above it all when we get into the leadership seat? We go into protection mode and forget that what got us here, won’t keep us here. If you simply embraced the opposite of each malady and were on the lookout for each, essentially vaccinating yourself from catching any of them, you would be a great leader. What I love most about these is that they are simple. There is nothing you need to study or research, they are just good common sense.

Take your inventory and start behaving better – remember that a high tide lifts all boats – and as the leader, you are the high tide.

Image: Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain