It’s not often that the Harvard Business Review shares papal wisdom for the benefit of its readers.
But the Harvard Business Review just did.
Gary Hamel, a big name in management advice, yesterday posted there the online piece “The 15 Diseases of Leadership, According to Pope Francis.” A professor from Benedictine College’s School of Business shared it with me.
The body of the article is from Pope Francis’ pre-Christmas speech to the Roman Curia — though Hamel “spent a couple of hours translating the Pope’s address into something a little closer to corporate-speak.”
“I don’t know if there’s a prohibition on paraphrasing Papal pronouncements,” he adds, “but since I’m not Catholic, I’m willing to take the risk.”
He had this high praise for Pope Francis as a management guru:
“Through the years, I’ve heard dozens of management experts enumerate the qualities of great leaders. Seldom, though, do they speak plainly about the “diseases” of leadership. The Pope is more forthright.”
His translation changes the pope’s work in mostly superficial ways. “Curial diseases” become “leadership diseases” to Hamel, and they “weaken the effectiveness of any organization” rather than “weaken our service to the Lord.”
And Hamel also doesn’t mention, as the Pope does, that the Desert Fathers made similar lists in their day.
But thereafter, the piece shows a little bit of the genius of Christianity. Values and virtues that Pope Francis finds in the Gospels Hamel applies directly to organizations — and they work.
Hamel even sums it all up with a quiz:
So, are you a healthy leader? Use the Pope’s inventory of leadership maladies to find out. Ask yourself, on a scale of 1 to 5, to what extent do I . . .
? Feel superior to those who work for me?
? Demonstrate an imbalance between work and other areas of life?
? Substitute formality for true human intimacy?
? Rely too much on plans and not enough on intuition and improvisation?
? Spend too little time breaking silos and building bridges?
? Fail to regularly acknowledge the debt I owe to my mentors and to others?
? Take too much satisfaction in my perks and privileges?
? Isolate myself from customers and first-level employees?
? Denigrate the motives and accomplishments of others?
? Exhibit or encourage undue deference and servility?
? Put my own success ahead of the success of others?
? Fail to cultivate a fun and joy-filled work environment?
? Exhibit selfishness when it comes to sharing rewards and praise?
? Encourage parochialism rather than community?
? Behave in ways that seem egocentric to those around me?
“A Papal leadership assessment may seem like a bit of a stretch,” says Hamel.
I don’t think so. Zhao Xiao attracted a great following in China with his essay “Market Economies With Churches and Market Economies Without Churches” which argues that Christianity gives a society something that purifies and accelerates economic activity. Business people who truly follow the Gospel have more integrity, network better, seek out win-wins, and put the proper priority on a more comprehensive human good, rather than just the economic.
So why not learn from the Pope’s advice how to manage better? He is a man of the Gospel, which is even more authoritative than the Harvard Business Review.