Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

The Pope Shows That Sometimes Leadership is Addition by Subtraction

ARCHIVES

As I write this, it’s the day after Pope Benedict XVI announced that he intends to resign the papacy at the end of this month. Considering that the last time a pope resigned was 600 years ago, his announcement qualifies as a pretty big story.

There’s been a lot of reporting and commentary about the impact of Benedict’s resignation. For example, The New York Times offers a nice analysis of the issues at hand in its article, Successor to Benedict Will Lead a Church at the Crossroads. My friend and colleague, John Baldoni, was very quick off the mark earlier today with a post for Forbes that offered three questions inspired by the Pope’s announcement that leaders should ask themselves.

I’ve read a lot of interesting things about the Pope and the Catholic Church today, but the one that really stood out for me was a letter to the editor of the New York Times from Daniel C. Maguire, a professor of moral theology at Marquette University. He opens the letter with these two sentences:

“The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI may be the most influential act of his papacy. It opens a window of opportunity for serious reform, starting with the papacy, in a church roiled in multiple crises.”

Without going into all of the challenges facing the Church and whether or not Pope Benedict was effective in addressing them, I respect his decision to resign. At age 85 and in declining health, he recognized that he was not up to the job and went against centuries of tradition by not hanging on to his job until he died. Apparently, the health of the organization he’s led is more important to him than being the leader of that organization.

While he didn’t put it this way in his announcement, with his resignation the Pope is creating the opportunity for addition by subtraction. That’s a pretty unusual move for a leader in a position of great power. Think about it, how many CEO’s or politicians have you seen hang onto their jobs when they were clearly way past their “sell by” date? I can come up with half a dozen in less than six seconds.

What’s your take on the Pope’s resignation? Good move or bad? What factors should leaders consider as they assess whether or not it’s time to move on?

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.