Once the successor to Pope Benedict XVI is in place, he could be forgiven a few first-day nerves. Like any high-profile senior appointee, the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will commence his duties amid great speculation and expectation.
When you take up the leadership mantle, whether of a team, a business or the entire Catholic world, all eyes are on you. Everything you do in the early days is critical – especially if you’re looking to earn lasting loyalty.
So what are some sure-fire ways to win over your new flock? Here are our top four tips:
Everyone knows that a new leader means change. Regardless of whether you’re planning immediate sweeping reforms, you’ll be lumbered with ‘new broom’ status.
However, this doesn’t mean your new staff will think you’ve got a mandate to upset their apple cart What it does mean is that they’ll probably be nervous about how any changes may affect them.
No matter how much individuals in your new organisation profess their desire for a fresh approach, people and organisations are naturally resistant to change. Sudden shifts in direction can set staff against you, so take your time to win them over. Start by getting an understanding of how things currently work and if you are going to change them then be clear about your reasons for this. It’s harder to argue with reason and logic.
Your first few days and weeks in your new position are key. Use this time to define your leadership style. This doesn’t mean rushing to transform everything in your first few days (see Point 1), but it does mean making every effort to encourage immediate confidence in your approach. Much of this is to do with making your staff feel trusted and informed. Don’t overdo public pronouncements, but do try to make yourself accessible and ensure that any communications outline your plans clearly and honestly.
Remember that your workers are making judgements on your leadership style from the first moment you’re in the job. In terms of new Popes, the first Angelus is generally seen as a significant initial test. Both followers and the media look to the new Pope’s first public events as setting the tone for the rest of his tenure.
As Robert Sutton, the author of Good Boss, Bad Boss writes, the “balancing act between confidence and doubt is a hallmark of great bosses. The confidence inspires people to follow them and believe in them, but the doubt helps ensure they get things right.”
You should always be attentive to opportunities to learn about your organisation. Just as followers around the world will be eager to see the new Pope on his early public appearances and tours, the first few weeks is the ideal time to get out and see as much of your organisation as possible. Even if you have worked there for years, you might be surprised by what new perspective the leadership position affords you.
You may feel strongly that you already know what your new organisation needs, but it’s important to question your own judgement. Listen, watch and ask others their views, too. You’ll be much less likely to jump to conclusions – and make mistakes – if you step back and observe the real story.
Gandhi’s words may have become a cliché, but they hold true. As respected HR blogger Flip Chart Fairy Tales writes, “people look at what leaders do and what they reward, rather than what they say, and behave accordingly.”
This is perhaps most true of all for religious leaders like the Pope, whose followers look to them not only for practical leadership but for a moral example to follow. The idea that a leader should present an example to their followers is relevant across many different types of business and organisation.
Let’s say you want to instil a culture of collaboration in your organisation. Then you’ll want to embody that collaborative spirit in your everyday interactions with staff as well as in your decisions and communications. Your actions will change perceptions – and may even turn around people’s view of what a ‘new broom’ might mean.
Today the Pope handed in his resignation. There aren’t many more high-profile jobs than that one, and this sort of position doesn’t become vacant very often. Here’s how The Vatican might advertise it if they ever got in touch with Jobsite.
Do you know anyone who might fit the bill?
Job Type: Permanent
Location: The Vatican and various
Start Date: ASAP
Duration: Life (sometimes negotiable)
Salary: N/A. Benefits including company car (Pope-mobile) and accommodation included
Ref No: 27384-HolyFather-38KJ
Date Advertised: 11 Feb 2013
“The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful. (Lumen Gentium, 23)”. The role of Pope involves acting as God’s chosen representative on earth. You will be responsible for leading your flock and spreading the Good Word.
The role is a combination of representative and administrative duties. You will give annual performance reports (‘New Year Address’), assessing organisational performance and giving clear objectives for the year ahead.
You will also be responsible for overseeing the Church’s social media presence, including regular tweets (in both Latin & English) from the designated Twitter @Pontifex.
While there is no direct salary, the role includes living expenses and accommodation at a desirable location in central Rome. Benefits included extensive world travel and sole use of the bulletproof so-called ‘Pope-mobile’.
The Pope is the supreme spiritual and temporal leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Aimed at spreading the good word of Christ, we are the largest Christian Church with adherents numbering over a billion people.
We are a truly global organisation and any applicants must be able to demonstrate a clear ability to build a global strategy while recognising local differences, as well as an ability to deal with a wide range of people.