This workshop was jointly presented by Lana Turvey and Peter Gates, both from Catholic Mission.
'By and large the leadership industry is self-satisfied, self-perpetuating and poorly policed', Barbara Kellerman, The End of Leadership
A recent survey into the levels of confidence Americans had in politics, religion and education revealed that they hadn't any confidence at all in these institutions.
'Leadership is about influence, and all people influence each other', Alvesson and Sveningsson, Managers doing leadership: the extra-ordinarization of the mundane
Leadership does not require title and formality.
Just like Archbishop Bergoglio donned a new habit of white and became Pope Francis, so we need to don a new habit in our leadership areas.
It was recommended that we reflect upon the talk Pope Francis gave to the priests of Rome in September 2013.
and to these excerpts from Evangelli Gaudium:
EG 25: I am aware that nowadays documents do not arouse the same interest as in the past and that they are quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, I want to emphasize that what I am trying to express here has a programmatic significance and important consequences. I hope that all communities will devote the necessary effort to advancing along the path of a pastoral and missionary conversion which cannot leave things as they presently are. “Mere administration” can no longer be enough. Throughout the world, let us be “permanently in a state of mission”.
EG 28: The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration. In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers. It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.
Peter and Lana then led a workshop exercise where we talked about what makes a good leader, and then wrote all those ideas down. No one had to think very hard to come up with these ideas, and the consensus was overwhelming.
To be a good leader: micro-managing doesn't work; focus on the big stuff, not on the electric light bill; having a vision is critical, being able to articulate it is even more important; lead by example; be honest if you don't know where you are heading; having an inappropriate vision for your organisation is very bad; be flexible; be authentic; be humble; be fair; be an attentive listener; be decisive; be other-centred; be inclusive; delegate; be approachable; have subject knowledge; be present; obey the golden rule (do to no one what you would not want done to you); be practical; be willing to learn; acknowledge your limitations; bring out the best in others.
Of course, if we aim to do all this we will certainly set ourselves up to fail. We can't do it all, but we can try to the best of our abilities.
Peter and Lana then took us through some amazing photographs of Pope Francis.
Some of them showed how Pope Francis ministers to the very sick, and the wheelchair bound, with tenderness, treating the other person – no matter how disfigured they may look – as Christ incarnate. He is compassionate and authentic.
Other photographs showed how Pope Francis is letting the little ones on the fringes come to the front, especially young children.
Many photographs show him prayerful and reflective eg in front of a statue of Our Lady or at the Wailing Wall.
It is obvious that Pope Francis is connected to God, and he shows respect for other faiths and the leaders of other faiths. To those on the opposite sides of national conflict he is not afraid to invite them to discuss their differences on neutral ground.
Pope Francis is open to the other. He takes time to make personal connections, to hug and to share closeness with the different one, the stranger.
In these photographs we see him preaching without words to us, because he is authentic 100% of the time. Holiness is leadership.
The people Pope Francis comes in contact with he converses with. He engages with them with dignity and respect. He can play and smile, and let himself be touched by others physically and emotionally. This is not 'at a distance' ministry. It is very important for people to feel listened to.
He freely shares joy-filled moments and can connect with people through laughter. He can help others smile, from the ordinary person through to the president of the United States. Pope Francis doesn't have to be in control, and he is quite happy to join in moments with others – like selfie photographs with young people.
Pope Francis calls us all to be missionary disciples. He imparts a vision that is positive and hopeful, and currently isn't doing as much critique of the modern world as his predecessors have. He frequently asks for prayers and recognises himself as a sinner.
Here is an example of the kind of man he is: One day when he was bishop he was visiting a parish where he met a young person who was in need. Knowing that he had places to be and thinking someone else from the presbytery would help the young person, he turned and left to resume his travels. However he hadn't got far when he was overcome with 'what have I done?' thoughts. So he turned back, found the young person, and spent time listening to him. When the young person had been helped, his episcopal schedule now in tatters, he went to a nearby convent to stay and found a priest to whom he could go to confession before saying his next Mass.
Good leadership looks like Jesus in action.
Peter and Lana then invited us to think about two questions:
Q. How can I improve how I live good leadership in the parish?
Be in less of a hurry. Take time to talk to those I see gifts in (natural evangelists, intercessors etc) and encourage them, and if possible connect them to people who can help them take the next step to develop/use those gifts. Engage more in conversation, and make time to do so. Take advantage of social activities outside Church and work on inviting others to experience hospitality eg to come out for a coffee and a quality chat.
Q. What am I going to do to live the joy of the Gospel?
Go and meet the person at the nursing home with a facial disfigurement.
The next blog-post will be about the workshop on the Teams of Our Lady.
Some of the workshops have been made available as podcasts via www.xt3.com
To access them visit http://www.xt3.com/library/view.php?id=17454
Some of the talks and workshops are now available from http://www.proclaimconference.com.au/resources.
Several video clips, transcripts, handouts and slide presentations are downloadable.