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Pope Francis, a Leader to Learn From

The pontiff's unique leadership ability is one reason Time Magazine chose him as its Person of the Year.
Pope Francis waves to the crowds during a drive around St. Peter's Square after delivering his blessing during Palm Sunday Mass on March 24, 2013 in Vatican City, Vatican.

Time magazine named Pope Francis its 2013 Person of the Year. In the past, the title has gone to other notable leaders like President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg. Likewise Pope Francis’ leadership abilities played a large role in his being chosen for the honor. And interestingly enough, he only began his papacy in March. 

“What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all.” Time’s cover article said, explaining why the Pope received the title.  

“In a matter of months, Francis has elevated the healing mission of the church -- the church as servant and comforter of hurting people in an often harsh world -- above the doctrinal police work so important to his recent predecessors.”

The fact that Pope Francis has been able to accomplish this much after assuming his position during a period of deep mistrust and tumult within the Catholic church is not lost on those who are following him. 

Inc. contributor Bill Murphy pointed out, “With some simple but daring gestures -- from removing the bullet-proof glass on the Pope mobile to rolling down the windows in his car to greet a throng of people when his driver took a wrong turn in Brazil -- this pope has shown an unusually open brand of leadership.”

So what can you learn from the Pope's fresh approach to leadership? 

For one you should always ponder what you want your actions to say about you, as the Pope has done time and again, says Inc. columnist Margaret Heffernan

She recently wrote:

"Before you do or say anything, ask yourself what you want to be known for. Then consider which one or two actions -- not words -- might articulate that. If you are going to have to start cutting costs, cut some of your own first. If you want a flatter hierarchy, get rid of your door. The Pope started by speaking Italian, not Latin, thus signaling a more modern man. Simple but eloquent."

Heffernan outlined more ideas for mastering the Pope's leadership in her recent article, worth a full read. 

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Dec 11, 2013

LAURA MONTINI | Staff Writer

Laura Montini is a reporter at Inc. She previously covered health care technology for Health 2.0 News and has served as an associate editor at The Health Care Blog. She lives in San Francisco.

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