Why Pope Francis Has Been an Effective Leader

A blog about business and economics.
April 18 2014 3:08 PM

Why Pope Francis Has Been an Effective Leader

Pope Francis.
Pope Francis loves his job.

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

This story first appeared in Inc.

One year ago, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina become Pope Francis. Upon his election, the new pope asked the crowd at St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, “Pray for me.”


Since then, the 77-year-old pontiff, who took the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, has become a popular leader in part because of his informal and inclusive attitude. Positioning himself as a champion of the poor and disenfranchised, he has refused to live in the papal palace, rides the “popemobile” without the bulletproof glass casing, and urged priests to give money to those less fortunate and not to drive expensive cars. His first year has been marked by events like his first Holy Thursday, when he washed the feet of young prisoners in an act of uncommon humility.

Many Catholics also have been encouraged to see that Francis has taken less hardline positions on some issues than his predecessors. He has said he does not judge gay people as long as they “seek God and are of good will,” and recently came out to say divorcees should not be condemned by the church.

Sally Wilson, a non-Catholic who recently traveled to St. Peter’s Square from Texas, tells NPR that the pope has particularly wide appeal: “I think his serving humanity and his love of people have an effect that makes him feel like he’s a pope for all, not just for Catholics.”

But the real secret behind Francis’ effectiveness may be the fact that people feel like he actually loves his job. 

Father John Wauck, a professor at the Opus Dei Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, tells NPR he has seen many popes, but what separates Pope Francis’ leadership is his positive disposition.

“He is not a showman in the way John Paul was, and he’s not retiring in the way Benedict was. Francis is completely comfortable in his own skin. He is transparently a happy person,” Wauck says. “It sounds really simplistic, but unfeigned happiness on the part of a public figure is not that common.”

Will Yakowicz is a reporter at Inc. magazine.


Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Not Easy for Me, but I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 23 2014 10:55 AM This Isn’t the Syria Intervention Anyone Wanted
Business Insider
Sept. 23 2014 10:03 AM Watch Steve Jobs Tell Michael Dell, "We're Coming After You"
The Vault
Sept. 23 2014 10:24 AM How Bad Are Your Drinking Habits? An 18th-Century Temperance Thermometer Has the Verdict.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 9:42 AM Listen to the Surprising New Single From Kendrick Lamar
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google CEO: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.