Jeffrey A. Krames is clearly a go-to sort of guy on the topic of leadership. As vice president and publisher of a McGraw-Hill’s business division, Krames edited and published more than 275 books. Perhaps he’s known best as the author of the 2005 leadership classic, Jack Welch and the 4 E’s of Leadership. He knows excellence when he sees it and the qualities that undergird a leader’s effectiveness.
Jeffrey Krames is Jewish — all the more significant that he would add to a very long list of books available about Jorge Mario Bergoglio by authoring Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis. In his Prologue he explains that “this is not just another leadership book. It is a deeply personal one.”
Krames makes it quite clear that his book is not confessional; his interest is other than Catholic faith or theology. Precisely as the descendant of Holocaust survivors, Krames celebrates Francis as a leader “who places enormous value on respect, dignity and humanity in every shape, color and form.”
Thankfully, the book is addressed to ordinary folks who may have no professional training in business, management or administration but still find ourselves called to a variety of leadership roles. Isn’t that all of us?
Here are the twelve lessons of leadership Karmes derives from observing Pope Francis:
- Humility — “I’ll stay down here.” after being elected Pope and expected to mount a dias to receive the electing cardinals.
- Immersion in the group your lead — “Smell like your flock.”
- Honest assessment of people — “Who am I to judge?”
- Reinvention — the church needs to “surge forth to the peripheries.”
- Inclusivity — “Walk through the dark night” with your constituency.
- Shunning insularity — “Self-sufficiency is evident in every false prophet.”
- Pragmatism — “Live on the frontier.”
- Care in decision-making — “I am always wary of the first decision.”
- Decentralization — “I see the church as a field hospital.”
- Being where you are needed, acting as it is needed — “Go there, live there, and understand the problem.”
- Confronting adversity head-on — “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests have committed.”
- Reaching beyond your constituency — “A Church the ‘goes forth’ is a Church whose doors are open.”
Whether a small business owner, a teacher, a manager, CEO, parent, spouse or neighbor the wisdom Krames distills from Francis’ compelling style is certainly something we all would do well to cultivate.
I have not yet had the opportunity to read Krames’ book and am wholly indebted to an excellent review by Trappist Mark Scott, abbot of New Melleray Abbey published in Cistercian Studies Quarterly, Vol 50.3 (2015) pp. 383-385.