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Saturday, August 24, 2019
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Mendoza: Diseases of leadership

The Scribe’s Corner



WHILE I was browsing Facebook early morning of Saturday, July 27, 2019 an article shared by Dr. Evelyn R. Fetalvero caught my attention. The article about the “15 Diseases of Leadership” according to Pope Francis is written by Gary Hamel, a visiting professor at London Business School and published by Harvard Business Review in their website https://hbr.org/.

The writer mentioned that Pope Francis has made no secret of his intention to radically reform the administrative structures of the Catholic Church, which he regards as insular, imperious, and bureaucratic. He understands that in a hyper-kinetic world, inward-looking and self-obsessed leaders are a liability.

Last year’s Pope’s message to his colleagues was blunt and said that they are susceptible to an array of debilitating maladies, including arrogance, intolerance, myopia, and pettiness. He added that when those diseases go untreated, the organization itself is enfeebled. He concluded that to have a healthy church, we need healthy leaders.

Hamel in his article said that the Catholic Church is a bureaucracy: a hierarchy populated by good-hearted, but less-than-perfect souls. In that sense, it’s not much different than our organization. That’s why the Pope’s counsel is relevant to leaders everywhere.

Hamel summarized the message of Pope Francis into 15 Leadership Diseases, as follows:

1. The disease of thinking we are immortal, immune, or downright indispensable, [and therefore] neglecting the need for regular check-ups. A leadership team which is not self-critical, which does not keep up with things, which does not seek to be more fit, is a sick body.

2. Another disease is excessive busyness. It is found in those who immerse themselves in work and inevitably neglect to “rest a while.” Neglecting needed rest leads to stress and agitation.

3. Then there is the disease of mental and [emotional] “petrification.” It is found in leaders who have a heart of stone, the “stiff-necked;” in those who in the course of time lose their interior serenity, alertness and daring, and hide under a pile of papers, turning into paper pushers and not men and women of compassion.

4. The disease of excessive planning and of functionalism. When a leader plans everything down to the last detail and believes that with perfect planning things will fall into place, he or she becomes an accountant or an office manager.

5. The disease of poor coordination. Once leaders lose a sense of community among themselves, the body loses its harmonious functioning and its equilibrium; it then becomes an orchestra that produces noise: its members do not work together and lose the spirit of camaraderie and teamwork.

6. There is also a sort of “leadership Alzheimer’s disease.” It consists in losing the memory of those who nurtured, mentored and supported us in our own journeys.

7. The disease of rivalry and vainglory. When appearances, our perks, and our titles become the primary object in life, we forget our fundamental duty as leaders—to “do nothing from selfishness or conceit but in humility count others better than ourselves.”

8. The disease of existential schizophrenia. This is the disease of those who live a double life, the fruit of that hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and of a progressive emotional emptiness which no [accomplishment or] title can fill.

9. The disease of gossiping, grumbling, and back-biting. This is a grave illness which begins simply, perhaps even in small talk, and takes over a person, making him become a “sower of weeds” and in many cases, a cold-blooded killer of the good name of colleagues.

10. The disease of idolizing superiors. This is the disease of those who court their superiors in the hope of gaining their favor.

11. The disease of indifference to others. This is where each leader thinks only of himself or herself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of [genuine] human relationships.

12. The disease of a downcast face. You see this disease in those glum and dour persons who think that to be serious you have to put on a face of melancholy and severity, and treat others—especially those we consider our inferiors—with rigor, brusqueness and arrogance.

13. The disease of hoarding. This occurs when a leader tries to fill an existential void in his or her heart by accumulating material goods, not out of need but only in order to feel secure.

14. The disease of closed circles, where belonging to a clique becomes more powerful than our shared identity. This disease too always begins with good intentions, but with the passing of time it enslaves its members and becomes a cancer which threatens the harmony of the organization and causes immense evil, especially to those we treat as outsiders.

15. Lastly, the disease of extravagance and self-exhibition. This happens when a leader turns his or her service into power, and uses that power for material gain, or to acquire even greater power.

This corner hopes that if you already identify the disease/s hounding you to perform better, try to change paradigm to maximize your potentials for the benefit of those you are serving.


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