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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Can the Pope's Leadership Style affect Bankers and Politicians?

***Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions at the bottom of the article. We will reply or will write a special article to answer your questions.***

Photo by Reuters
It is unlikely that we will see Prime Minister Cameron washing socks for the Chelsea Pensioners over at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.  Nor are we likely to see President Obama visiting inmates at Guantanamo Bay.  No one should hold their breath to see if Prime Minister Netanyahu will wash the feet of Palestinian convicts any more than the leader of HAMAS would wash the feet of Israelis wounded by suicide bombers.  Still.....

Washing the feet of drug addicted convicts in a prison appears to be part of a larger lifestyle and leadership method for this new Bishop of Rome. The Vatican may yet regain some of it moral authority as Pope Francis the First appears to be exhibiting some strange behaviour for a high public figure – humility.

Pope Francis seems to have a genuine humility which he has exercised while living as a bishop and archbishop.  This is not the sort of fake humility exhibited when Hollywood stars or politicians get their pictures taken at a homeless shelter in order to show they are “good people.” 

This humility may have a significant economic and financial impact in an unexpected way.

Currently, much of the population in the Christian world and elsewhere has become adapted to public displays of incredible wealth and arrogance by leadership figures. In the USA for instance, leaders in the automotive industry flew their private jets to Washington in order to beg for taxpayer dollars to bail out their mismanaged enterprises. 

Photo from Yogesh Pandey
Arrogance breeds risk taking.  This has been especially clear in the banking sector as the “Masters of the Universe” who run The City and Wall Street have made a series of disastrous decisions over the last twenty years.  Arrogance also believes that other should have to pay for your mistakes, as we have seen in the banking sector as various banks have demanded huge bailouts while their leaders take bonuses which are astronomical. 

It is doubtful that even Galileo could conceive of the vastness that is the arrogant universe of today’s leadership figures who put themselves alone at the centre of their worlds.

Humility, on the other hand, tends to breed responsibility and a bit of caution.  Humility also tends to breed integrity – a quality which is sorely lacking in the governmental and banking sectors at the moment.  How is one to have confidence in the IMF, for instance, when its last leader was arrested and its current leader has her flat raided by corruption police?

The advanced economy democracies are facing at least of another decade of economic deprivation brought about by the hubris of its leaders.  What we are seeing now in Greece, Spain, Cyprus and Ireland is what we will start to see in France, the UK, the USA and Canada as our debt and arrogance catch up to us.

If the Pope continues his behaviour of humility, his actions will become a considerable embarrassment for the other leaders in public life. This humility carries its own risks – strong forces will oppose a leadership role being used in such a manner.

However, by exhibiting such behaviour in public, he may over the medium term gradually impress upon other leaders that their role in life is not to display arrogance and hubris. Their power and influence might be used for the overall improvement of society rather than the raw extraction of existing wealth.

Can the Pope fix the economy?  Not likely. Can the Pope embarrass other leaders in the banking and government world into accepting more humility in their lives?  Time will tell.

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