- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Pilot or pastor? From the No-nonsense Francis School of Leadership

Pope Francis has done it again. I mean, his probably weekly plain English (well, Italian or Spanish) bit of nudging to his troupes. And, as it is now normal, a new piece of wisdom and un-sophisticated, un-complicated guidance, is out for the collection.

This plain, off the cuff talking drives his holy apparatus nuts, and is often seen (mostly heard) with horror by the ones who expect the Catholic Pope to speak not other than extremely complicated and theologically unintelligible language. But many people, even those not near close to the Catholic Church, also systematically receive it as fresh air.

Francis authenticity is so raw material that many people think of it as the calculated, spin trick, of a ‘super skilled politician’. We have come to believe that authenticity is suspicious. Who could blame the thinkers? After all, we are short of that authenticity, so seen a real Endangered Species live, next to us, shocks us.

Francis was this time talking to the Italian Bishops about the importance of the laity. Read normal people not in the church hierarchy. He told them that they did not need a bishop-pilot (‘to assume their responsibilities at all levels, political, social, economic or legislative’) but a bishop-pastor. The implication was: you are too much piloting. So, pilot or pastor?

Everybody knows what a pilot is. The ones who do the job, take you places, whilst you sit behind in comfortable (of some sort) seats, often going off to sleep. Pilot-leadership style is similar. ‘They’ at the top will do, decide, will tell us what to do. The CEO is the pilot, the COO the co-pilot, the CFO the second co-pilot and so on.

Pastor and pastoral care has not only a religious connotation in itself, but a broader meaning of ‘emotional and spiritual support’. In the UK in particular, the term ‘pastoral care’ is used [1] in education in a non-religious way, to refer to ‘the practice of looking after the personal and social well-being of children or students under the care of a teacher or rabbi. It can encompass a wide variety of issues including health, social and moral education, behavior management and emotional support.’

Pastor-leadership is therefore more about creating the conditions, the environment, the space. It’s about care (same root as cure, and in other languages as dear or loved)

Many well meaning leadership teams embrace progressively increasing levels of piloting without even being conscious of that. The pilot model is very visible in organizational cultures where top leadership or to management teams have a disproportionate amount of topics to ‘approve and decide’ in their agenda. These groups and teams are so busy piloting from the fith or tenth floor HQ cockpit that have no time to come down to the pastures and do some pastoral stuff.