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What Makes Pope Francis a Good Leader?


Pope Francis has taken the world by storm. His real name is Jorge Mario Bengolio, born on December 17, 1936 in Flores, Buenos Aires.  He has been elected as the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. From the beginning of his papacy on March 2013, he has achieved several firsts that distinctly differentiate him from his predecessors. He is the first non-European pope in 1,200 years, the first Latin-American and the first Jesuit, he is also the first pope to choose the name Francis, in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi.

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Because of the magnitude and speed of his achievements, TIME Magazine chose him as Person of the Year in 2013. His outspoken and radically different leadership style has made Pope Francis one of the most controversial pope’s ever.


The purpose of this report is to discuss what makes Pope Francis a good leader.


Famous authors have their own definition of good leadership:

Brian C Maxwell defines a leader as, “One who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” While Brian Tracey says that, “Great leaders find the balance between business foresight, performance, and character.”

Great leaders exhibit the characteristics of Vision, Courage, Integrity, Humility

Jack Welch explains that Vision will help tap into people’s emotions. A good business leader will create, articulate, own the vision, and drive it into completion.

Winston Churchill believes that Courage is the foremost of all virtues. Good Leaders are willing to take risks to achieve their goals.

According to Zig Ziglar, when you have Integrity, you always do the right thing and there is no fear of hiding anything.

Having Humility, they can recognise the importance of others without feeling threatened.

They know Plan Strategically by looking ahead to see the market trends.

The strengths of their employees and the strength of the company is their primaryfocus.

They are able to Cooperate with their employees in such a way that they work because they actually want to.

They are likeable. People follow the lead of those who are friendly and approachable.

 They are skilled at communication and are good listeners. They can motivate, instruct and discipline people.


Pope Francis embodies many characteristic traits of a great leader.  He showed the world that his  style of leadership would be very different from the old ways of the Catholic Church, while his views on poverty, reforming the church, climate change and divorce have stirred up world opinion, making him a constant media personality. His visits to Israel and Cuba, his welcoming of Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas Vatican visit, and addressing US Congress as well as other world leaders have all made international headlines.

He has gone against thousands of years of strict Catholic tradition by welcoming gay people, as well as those who have been divorced. Sectors of society who would usually be looked down upon by the Catholic Church.

His most recent encyclical, “Laudato Si,” connects climate change to poverty and the rights of indigenous people. Effectively turning the environmental crisis into an issue of social justice.


A real leader does not shy away from crisis and debate, but embraces them as part of finding a solution. Here are his views on ten key issues, in his own words:

1. Human Rights

“Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”

2. Equality

“We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.”

3. Peace

“Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good… Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

4. Finance

“There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone. This would nevertheless require a courageous change of attitude on the part of political leaders.”

5. Work

“Together with a culture of work, there must be a culture of leisure as gratification. To put it another way: people who work must take the time to relax, to be with their families, to enjoy themselves, read, listen to music, play a sport.”

6. The Environment

“May the relationship between man and nature not be driven by greed, to manipulate and exploit, but may the divine harmony between beings and creation be conserved in the logic of respect and care.”

7. Sustainability

“Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last 200 years.”

8. World Economy

“The idea of infinite or unlimited growth, which proves so attractive to economists, financiers and experts in technology … is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry at every limit.”

9. Government

“Every man, every woman who has to take up the service of government, must ask themselves two questions: ‘Do I love my people in order to serve them better? Am I humble and do I listen to everybody, to diverse opinions in order to choose the best path?’ If you don’t ask those questions, your governance will not be good.”

10. Power

“You cannot be in a position of power and destroy the life of another person.”


From the time of his election in March 2013, Pope Francis has established ground breaking progress by removing political red tape and making changes in the Church’s accountability and changing its focus to that of a pilgrim and a minister to the marginalised and less fortunate.


The Church has held staunch beliefs on controversial issues and has remained stalwart in its views concerning abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.

Very early into his new role, Pope Francis criticised the Church for being obsessive in regards to these long-standing issues. He said that it was, “putting religious doctrine before love,” prioritizing these moral doctrines rather than serving the poor.


He called for the Vatican to step down from its high throne and start collaborating with laypeople, bishops and women in particular. Since then, three women have been appointed as consultants to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in the Vatican.


Pope Francis hosted Israeli and Palestinian presidents in May 2014, for a prayer summit. He also flew into the West Bank where he referred to the Israeli-occupied territory as the “State of Palestine.”


There is a battle between traditionalists who argue about the indissolubility marriage and high level officials who would like to give Catholics who have been divorced a chance to participate more fully in Church activities and for those who have remarried, to be able to have their previous relationship annulled

He Is Holding Bishops More Accountable for Sex Abuse

There has yet to be a pope who has confronted in public, bishops who have been accused of gross negligence. Under Pope Francis leadership, a tribunal for judging bishops has been created by the Vatican. This is in light with the clamor of victims of child sexual abuse which has been a hushed issue covered up by the Roman Catholic Church for more than three decades.

He Is Reviving Liberation Theology

The beatification of slain Archbishop Óscar Romero of El Salvador in May which has advanced his sainthood is sign of Pope Francis’ allegiance to the poor and oppressed.

Climate Change

“Laudato Si’,” the Pope’s latest encyclical, confronts the problem of climate change. It called for  “a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles.” It attributed environmental destruction to “apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness.”

Commitment to a Respectful Dialogue

Pope Francis would like to bring together all religions, and atheists, in his pursuit of important global topics.

His positive relations with leaders of the Jewish, Muslim, Evangelical, and Orthodox Christian faiths has influenced them to pray for a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis.

Unifying Social Sectors

Pope Francis has made it clear that he welcomes all people, even communities that have previously been harshly excluded from the Catholic Church, such as the LGBT community. Francis commented, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will,who am I to judge?”


Instead of living in the Apostolic Palace, he chooses to live in a humble apartment known as Santa Marta together with other bishops. He does not wear much ornamentation, wearing simple vestments and the pectoral cross he has used as a cardinal. He uses a fuel-efficient Ford Focus instead of a luxury car.


He showed respect for the language of indigenous groups in Paraguay by delivering the”lord’s Prayer” in Guarani, a language spoken by 80% of the population. While including readings in Quichua, the most-spoken native language in Ecuador.


He has stated: “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”


A review of the Encyclical by Yale stated:

“Experts say the document has the potential to transform the global discussion on climate change for Catholics and non-Catholics alike by projecting the planetary crisis into moral and religious terms at a critical moment in global climate negotiations.”

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The Pope cites consumerism, irresponsible development, and the use of fossil fuels as the causes of “a relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment” and “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us.”

“The warming caused by huge consumption on the part of some rich countries has repercussions on the poorest areas of the world … There is also the damage caused by the export of solid waste and toxic liquids to developing countries, and by the pollution caused by companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they … would never do in developed countries or the so-called first world.”


The Pope’s accomplishments are many and varied. He has been able to make important changes in the way the Vatican treats the taboo subjects on the LGTB Community, the importance of women in the Vatican, the increased accountability of the church in the sex scandals, acting as a bridge to repair relations with Superpowers such as China, the US and Cuba, acknowledging the importance of poorer countries, indigenous groups and migrants, linking environmental crises to the greed of wealthy nations and apathy of the people, reaching out to all religions and calling for unification, as well as changing the church’s views on abortion, divorce, marriage, annulment and the death penalty.


Walks the Talk

When we look at the leadership style of Pope Francis, we notice that he actually does what he says. He is a living testament to what he preaches.

Risk Taker

Pope Francis isn’t afraid to do things that are out-of-the ordinary. He is candid and unguarded in his actions. He is courageous and uses his influence to address worldwide issues despite criticism.

Asks for Advice

Pope Francis doesn’t rely only on his own personal experiences. Rather, he seeks counsel from others who have expertise on certain subjects.

Internet Savvy

Pope Francis makes use of internet technology to reach out and share even his personal thoughts and reflections. Although the Vatican has a website, the Pope has made an impact by using Twitter, where he has 4.3 million followers, to be able to connect to a wider audience.

Understand the importance of public opinion

Pope Francis understands that being liked plays an important part in his effectiveness. He listens to what the public has to say and acts accordingly to his beliefs, but always taking into consideration public opinion. In fact, a survey done by Pew Research Centre says that only 4 percent of Catholics have an unfavorable view of Pope Francis.

Touches people

During Pope Francis’ “walkabouts,” he likes to connect with people by giving them a handshake or a hug. He reaches out to the sick and afflicted and isn’t afraid to goof around and enjoys taking selfies with the people.

He Speaks from the Heart

Pope Francis rarely uses a pre-written speech whenever he addresses the public.


Pope Francis’ has shown the world what is to be, and what it takes to be called a great leader. His many achievements coupled with his unique characteristics of actually living the ideals of what he preaches, living simply, speaking his mind, promoting frugality, and working for peace and justice, making changes in doctrine that no longer apply to the 21st century has made him not only a good leader, but a great one.

He has been able to reach out to both Catholics and Non-Catholics alike. He has touched the lives of people all over the world and has created a platform for world leaders to effect change for the betterment of humanity.



For many, the reasons for the popularity of the Holy Father lie elsewhere. They are to be found first in the strength of a personality that goes against the grain of media outcry and political posturing; and second in the weaknesses of an era where such qualities as his are rare.

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