Are Management Skills Scared? Just Ask the Pope.

Are management skills sacred? Recently Pope Benedict XVI resigned his papacy due to his advanced age. However, there are rumors floating around that in part, his resignation was due to his poor management skills. During an interview with a cardinal, a reporter asked if the cardinal thought that it was more important for the new pope to have the skills to “get the message out” or one with good management skills. Without hesitation, the cardinal replied “one who can get the message out.” The idea, of course, is to elect a pope who has both talents. A question for the Vatican, as well as every business, is to ask, what is the pope’s, or CEO’s, or director’s job description?



If the job of the pope is to get the message out, then the pope needs a good manager to back the position of pope. If the job description for the pope is to be a good manager and let the Vatican, or your Board, or human resource department or whomever get the message out, then the pope, CEO, or Director may take on a completely different role within the organization. If the job description for the Pope is to have both good management and message delivering skills, then perhaps a more careful and well thought out election or hiring process needs to be in place. Do the cardinals have good HRM (human resource management) skills? It would seem that the fox may be in the hen house if the people who do the hiring or in this case, the electing, are also in competition for the job. The fox in the hen house scenario occurs in organizations as well. This is where good succession planning comes into play.

The Vatican may have something to learn from Corporate America in this category. In 1294, there were only 20 cardinals. These 20 had difficulty agreeing on a pope. Today thre are approximately 207 members of the College of Cardinals. Boards with far fewer members can become stuck as well. In 1059, Pope Gregory VII and his inner circle, changed to the current system of having the election of the pope remain under the control of the Catholic Church. Change in business is not always so easy. However, it is wise for every business to review the available pool of leadership talent. First, ensure your hiring processes are effective. Second, be willing to train, develop, mentor, and coach your people. Third, benchmark leadership positions. This is called “letting the job talk.” When the job talks, it will tell you the skills, talents, and attributes it needs to operate at its optimal level. These processes are scared to growing your organization, being profitable, and beating the competition. Good luck to the next pope on the Vatican’s processes.

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