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Three Popes: Lessons in Leadership

Track: Experiential Learning Association (ELA)

Keywords: leadership effectiveness, leadership behavior, leadership traits, leadership communication

In Three Popes: Lessons in Leadership participants explore leadership theories as a basis to comment on the leadership style and effectiveness of two former Bishops of Rome—John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The purpose is to hypothetically assist the incumbent pontiff, Francis, whose legacy—while looking promising—still is in its infancy. In the exercise, participants investigate the personal traits and life stories of three recent popes in an attempt to understand each pontiff’s professional style and effectiveness as a leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Using Pope Francis’ immediate predecessors as examples of different leadership approaches, teams recommend to Pope Francis ways to enhance his own legacy and the vitality of the Church. In so doing, the exercise should suggest ways participants might enhance their own leadership skills and effectiveness within the professional organization to which they belong.


Valerie Christian -
Sacred Heart University

Mary Trefry -
Sacred Heart University


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