Pope Francis on Leadership

The Pope As Building Principal?

by: Sherry and Kristina Macbury We were tickled to read a recent article written by William Vanderbloemen on the 5 Leadership Lessons From Pope Francis.


What can you learn and reflect on from Pope Francis' Transformational Leadership Style as an educational leader?

  1. Be Accessible

The Pope emulates this as evidenced by his actions taken on his first day – he switched up tradition and invited people to bless HIM as opposed to the long practice of blessing the people. Later, he made the choice to ride in a bus as opposed to a bulletproof limousine – he can even been seen riding around touring the U.S. in a Fiat.


And we see this being applicable to your schools and building leadership in two main ways: Customer service and Engaging ALL of your constituents.


Nothing replaces good customer service in a school than when your community can see that you can take care of the "little" things like answering and returning calls and emails, personalizing experiences for staff and students, and handling a busy main office with smiles and knowledge, it gives them the confidence that you can "handle" the big things like respecting and inspiring staff and students and for families, the education of their loved ones in a safe and inclusive environment.


How are you emulating being accessible to your “customers” in the principalship?


  1. Don't Ignore Social Media

Did you know the Pope has 7.3 million English account followers on Twitter?


Social media is a great way to leverage relationships and engage our families and communicate. Remember the most important information families want to hear about is their children, not about what you are doing for their school.


The main take away from this message is to exercise humility and inclusiveness via social media, just as the Pope does with his tweets.


  1. Flatten Your Organization

One of the first orders of business for the Pope after evaluating his organizational structure was to change his own title. He changed it from “Supreme Pontiff” to the “Bishop of Rome”. Again, he switched up tradition and rearranged his team, to be less hierarchical in nature.


Does your leadership team and building know your vision? Do they know their roles as it relates to the implementation of your school plan? Have you designed your leadership team and responsibilities in a way that allows you to remain the visionary and chief monitor of your vision – and ultimately built upon SUSTAINABILITY? If not, you need to consider stepping back and taking the time to make sure efforts are all going toward common goals and are vision and mission aligned. Otherwise, you likely will not reach your goals for your school and most importantly, your students.


  1. Take Risks

This one, for us at educate4hope, really resonated. You see, Pope Francis, has taken some BIG risks early met with controversy but, without sacrificing his faith in the Catholic Doctrine. From reaching out to atheists and agnostics, to embracing and engaging women who have had abortions, the Pope’s leadership in the area of taking risks is grounded in inclusiveness. How many people might say, before Pope Francis, that they have felt shut out?


So, as an educational leader – what risks do you or have you taken to be inclusive of ALL staff, students and community?


  1. Value Input From Subordinates

Pope Francis has impacted his reach and influence by valuing all people. What does that look like in his world? Well, he switched up tradition again as he washed the feet of prisoners, women and Muslims as opposed to the tradition of only priests. He also transformed the Synod of Bishops into a decision-making body as opposed to a ceremonial body.


As you know, every human being in your building is value added. It is your job to embrace, engage and leverage everyone's worth and authentically value it. Many may say we have lost our way as educational leaders in valuing input from our constituents. Don’t fall victim to this practice!



For leadership case studies, infused with much more humor, written from the school and district trenches of Philadelphia and Delaware…please be sure to click below to get your free copy of the Principal Pro (while supplies last). The Principal Pro is written by best-selling author, mother of 11, and educator, Kristina Diviny-MacBury.

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