Wednesday, September 22, 2010

John Paul II: A “Rebel with a Cause”

Most people see the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church as a figure head whose duty is to further the Church's interests and “social responsibilities” around the world. But many people of many walks of faith see Pope John Paul II, or Karol Josef Wojtyla, differently. Sharif Khan describes him as, “Heroes are rebels with a cause. Rebels because they challenge the traditional ways of thinking and refuse to follow the herd. They have a cause, a vision, that's larger than life”.

I believe that he draws his power from various pools. First off he has vast expert power because by the time he was named Pope he already was a professor in ethics and had completed two doctorate degrees in theology. Sharif Khan summarizes Wojtyla’s leadership into the following categories: humility, heart, forgiveness, and responsibility. These ideas definitely fall into Choi’s criteria for a charismatic leader, as his vision and empathy were is greatest leadership attributes. He tapped into his followers’ need for affiliation as well as need for achievement. Above all his relationship with his followers is key. He broke many traditions and symbols in the Catholic Church in order to promote his ideals; in doing so he changed the papal role from one of supreme authority to one of servant-hood.

While reading Goleman’s article on getting results, the affiliative style embodies Pope John Paul II. Goleman says that affiliative leaders “manage by building strong emotional bonds and…fierce loyalty. The style also has a markedly positive effect on communication…to build team harmony, increase morale, or repair broken trust.” Wojtyla opened up rather controversial, inter-religious communication like no Pope had done before. Wojtyla was the first pope to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland in 1979, in 2000 he visited Jerusalem's Yad Vashem and prayed for reconciliation between Christians and Jews, and he was the first Pope ever to enter a mosque.

Not only did he involve himself in religious matters, but also in political matters. He took on responsibilities because he did not see people by religion, rather by their need for help. He helped inspire Solidarity in Poland, forgave his attempted assassin, even met with Arafat and Castro. He used his role as Pope to serve the people on their terms. Open communication and the relationship he had with his followers is what granted him the power to become a global figurehead. In Heifetz’s term a leader has to take a stand, be socially useful and engage our values. Under these and the aforementioned examples I consider Wojtyla an effective leader.

But do you think Pope John Paul II’s leadership style could work in someone else’s position? Could a political leader or CEO practice humility, heart, forgiveness, and responsibility? Indeed all of these could be applied to a given situation, but matter of the question is the effectiveness.

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