How to Apply the Pope’s Philosophies for Business Success
Written by Vicki Salemi
Ask business author Jeffrey A. Krames about lessons learned from Pope Francis and he’ll give you one. Or two. Or 12.
His recently released book, “Lead With Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons From Pope Francis,” outlines ways management can apply the pontiff’s lessons to their own organizations by living on the frontier and reaching out instead of waiting for people to come to you.
Krames, a self-described conservative Jewish man and the son of Holocaust survivors, says he’s inspired by Pope Francis’ leadership.
It’s not so much about religion, he says — it’s about the countless ways his approach can be applied to the corporate world.
In particular, the pope evoked change overnight — not exactly an easy feat in mammoth organizations.
“He came along and turned everything around, which is extremely difficult,” says Krames.
“Real change in any organization — particularly one like the Catholic Church — takes years.”
Pointing out we’re immersed in a period of change for “a gentler, kinder CEO but no less competitive,” Krames highlights several points from his book — and that “gentler and kinder is going to win in the end.”
Lead with humility
“Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers. No one has all the answers. Humility is knowing you don’t know everything. So what does Pope Francis do to show that he was humble in a really meaningful way?
“He put together what I call his ‘board of directors’ — what they call at the Vatican the V8 — eight cardinals with only one based in Europe. He wants them from all over the world. He’s the 266th pontiff but the first to ever put together a consultative body to serve him while he develops new ideas to get a broad spectrum of ideas. If you think you have all the answers, then you’re not going to help anybody.”
Run your organization like a field hospital
“He was going into the back streets of Buenos Aires to people who needed his help. In business, you have to encourage your people to get out of the office. People have become way too attached to social media, phone calls and Skype, and we don’t do enough face-to-face time with customers and potential customers.
“Get out there into the field. That’s a critical thing. Go where you can tend to people — you need to give it your all. That means going to your biggest customers or your competitors, products and being with those people. Tend to them so you’ll be far more mobile, far more in tune to the needs of people — not just sending e-mails all day.”
Smell like your flock
“Tesco, the second-biggest retail company in the world, [based] in Great Britain, has a program they do every year where top management takes a job for a week, whether it’s stocking shelves or working cash registers. Pope Francis encountered many kids with their families in back alleys. Many of them were on paco, which is a very cheap form of cocaine that contains ground glass. He tended to these kids, he washed their feet.
“If you’re a high-ranking manager, the least you can do is have breakfast with employees once a month to hear everybody’s story. Hang out with them and learn who they are, what they need and what they want.”
Make inclusion a top priority
“Pope Francis is trying to make his organization as inclusive as possible, and we need to do that, too, in the corporate world. We live in a very turbulent world, and you cannot afford to have people on your payroll who are gliding along. You need to make sure that each and every person has your attention. You need to give people feedback all the time — be inclusive. Don’t wait once a year to give them feedback.”
Pay attention to noncustomers
“The best business leaders understand that it may not be their customers [who] provide the most accurate information on the organization and its products. Francis knew that long before he became pope. His outreach did not stop with members of the Catholic faith. He did not ignore his core constituency, but he had a grander vision. He wanted to offer a place of comfort to those disenfranchised and fed up with the church’s antiquated ideas. That is why he reached out to the LGBT community, divorcees, etc.
“As a leader or aspiring business leader, follow Francis’ example by casting a wider net. Use social media to familiarize customers outside of your comfort zone with your offerings. This may mean following new leaders, potential customers, etc., on Twitter, or recasting your Facebook page to attract new people.”
For more information on how to book Jeffrey Krames for your next event, visit premierespeakers.com/jeffrey_krames.