The things holding us back from being great leaders (and our best selves)

Harvard Business Review just published a FANTASTIC article about the “15 diseases of leadership, according to Pope Francis.”

Now, regardless of what you think of the Pope, or whether you’re even religious, his insights are universal. They are direct and basic. Yet, when I first read this list of 15 items, I realized how easy it can be to forget some fundamental human principles.

Also, being a health person, I found it interesting to talk about leadership in the sense of disease, or in the negative. Sure we see article after article talking about ways to be a better leader, or the top things to do to be our best selves. But these can be idealistic, without any connection to our current circumstance.

The unfortunate fact is that humans are hard wired to respond to the negative. It’s how we think. So, talking about leadership through the lens of “disordered structure or function, that affects part or all of an organism” (the definition of disease) he appeals to this fact of human psychology.

Anyway, enough babbling. Here are the 15 diseases. Check out the full HBR article for a discussion of each.

  • Thinking we are immortal, immune, or downright indispensable
  • Excessive busyness
  • Mental and [emotional] “petrification”
  • Excessive planning and of functionalism
  • Poor coordination
  • Leadership Alzheimer’s disease
  • Rivalry and vainglory
  • Existential schizophrenia
  • Gossiping, grumbling, and back-biting
  • Idolizing superiors
  • Indifference to others
  • A downcast face
  • Hoarding
  • Closed circles
  • Extravagance and self-exhibition
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