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Leadership at the Corner of Faith & Folly

A great client and friend — one of the most extraordinary business-growth CEOs alive and a real people-first leader — has repeatedly observed: “Sadly, with the death of Nelson Mandela, we may have lost the only leader who merits ‘world-class’.”  Recently, he added, “But now, Pope Francis appears to be that extraordinary!” I am pleased to agree!

Leadership that lacks a social conscience is merely power masquerading.

Real leaders are more concerned about the substance of the point they are making than about the form of the impression they are leaving. They are more concerned to connect people with worthy principles than connecting pomposity with a payday.

It really is not necessary to brandish status or title to make a good point. As a humble prisoner, Mandela was powerful in his dignity while insisting that a whole nation do the right thing. He put his faith in civilization. Before he became “Pope Francis,” Jorge Mario Bergoglio was an independent leader of human principles — “a servant of the servants of God” — who denied the assumption that disproportionate authority merits disproportionate monetary wealth. As Pope and the leader of one billion Catholic faithful worldwide, he still acts accordingly.

Let’s not miss the point. Examine the leadership of both of these human beings. Certainly, the point is not that Nelson Mandela was head of state or Pope Francis is religious. You are aware many national presidents and religious leaders have been corrupt or corruptible! Look at each of these people-first leaders for how they act, what they truly stand for, and how connected they are to advancing civilization. See how much they distanced themselves from wealth and status that divides while insisting on principles and practices that unite.

Contrasting the Mandela-Pope Francis people-first leadership, on the one hand, with the “leadership” of so many individuals in prominent positions of authority — some CEOs, for example — is remarkable, but does it need to be so?

“Today, we’re closer and closer to living on the corner
where satire and reality intersect.”

— Louis Black, Social Satirist

We ALL have the ability to lead in that people-first way. Yes, it is different than the general leadership of today.   It comes from the heart’s wisdom, and it is not primarily concerned with personal wealth or getting re-elected. We ALL have the ability to lead with heart’s wisdom — placing all people first — in 2015. Perhaps you will choose to do so, more than you ever have before!

Like the brilliance of a flashmob, the fruits of people-first leadership are remarkable insight, daring and unselfish innovation.

Each of us is capable of animating core human values and strongly influencing others based on the power of social coherence and worthy purpose.