“Synodal leadership and the Gospel go against the current”

“Synodal leadership and the Gospel go against the current”
“Synodal leadership and the Gospel go against the current”

Among its training projects, the Pablo VI Foundation is committed to the Master of Continuing Education in Humanist Leadership for Latin America and the Caribbean. With the help of the Pontifical University of Salamanca, this initiative, whose registration is open, seeks to offer tools for those who are called to take the reins of the continent in the style of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which is the same as serving the common good, placing human dignity at the center. At the helm, as director of this Master, Marta Pedrajas.

QUESTION: Educating for humanistic leadership. Is it because there are too many ‘dehumanized’ leaders at the forefront, both in companies and in public institutions?

ANSWER.- In the current context, there are certain predominant values ​​that are permeating all spheres of society and people’s lives. Basically, it is the search for prestige, power and wealth. When these types of motivations guide the management style and decisions of leaders, they permeate the entire organization and society. We find this in many companies, in public institutions, in people’s private lives and even in some parts of the Church. It is not something new either, Aristotle already said it in the 4th century BC, that happiness is not given by honor, pleasure or wealth. And many centuries later, we find ourselves in the same battle. Therefore, it is necessary to propose those values ​​that do humanize, put people at the center, generate the culture of encounter, service to others, orient our institutions to the common good. These principles, values ​​and leadership techniques are what we are going to learn in this Master.

In the place of the other

Q.- In a time of individualism, of achieving personal goals, the Church is betting on synodal leadership, on a team-based approach. Isn’t this a counter-current approach?

R.- Totally against the current, but the whole Gospel is against the current. In the face of the individualistic, utilitarian world, in the face of the throwaway culture… the Church proposes the culture of encounter, the common good as a guide for society, the values ​​of solidarity and subsidiarity for work in institutions, dialogue for the management of teams. And above all, a leadership of service, of putting oneself in the place of the other, of those on the periphery, going to the last. And from there building new communities, societies and institutions under the principles of service, encounter and the common good.

Q.- What does Latin America have to teach the rest of the world in terms of community and co-responsibility?

R.- Latin America is a region with cohesive values, with family, social and community alliances that permeate the entire region and have allowed it to survive authentic political, economic and social challenges. It has survived the worst dictatorships, very difficult economic and social crises. And it continues to suffer seriously from inequality, informality, lack of good governance, malnutrition, low quality public services, etc. But the good and hopeful thing is that the foundation is well built, the values ​​of the common good are established in society, and that allows the building to be built. The basis is these values ​​of the family, of the community, of the Church, which is much more present and synodal in this continent than in any other. We must all learn from this Latin America and the Caribbean, and improve what does not work, so that it can progress and develop in all its splendor.

A Pope as a model

Q.- I suppose that when talking about humanist leadership, it is inevitable to talk about Francis. What traits does this Pope have as a leader to imitate?

R.- Francis is a Pope committed, brave, consistent, leading by example. Just as he goes to Lampedusa to denounce the treatment of immigrants, he returns on the plane with 12 immigrant families. Just as he tells the Church that we must go to the peripheries, he is the one who has traveled to Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, now he is going to Singapore, Fiji… It is not only what he says, but what he does. This is a model for everyone to follow. And he is capable of reading the current world with a new perspective, from above, from the depths, and from there making decisions for change, which generate paths of hope for society. Of course he is a leader, because he does what he teaches, and because he inspires with his example.

Q.- In the era of maximum economic return and optimization of resources at the lowest possible cost, is it not an ‘anti-system’ proclamation for the Pope to say that ‘true power is service’?

R.- Yes, it is a bit like what we have already said. The Pope says it because the Gospel says it, everything is anti-system: love your enemy, turn the other cheek, carry your cross… Whoever wants to be your master, let him be your servant. And he washed their feet at the Last Supper. What does this mean for today’s world? A message that goes against the grain, but curiously, it is the one that gives meaning to life, that fills us with happiness, that generates hope in the tired and dejected. Everyone who has had this experience of service will tell you that it is much better to give than to receive. Because without expecting it, you receive a hundredfold, it is true. But you also have to know how to exercise this service of the Gospel, how to transmit it to your teams, to your environment, to your society. This is also taught in this Master’s degree.

Q.- Can ‘Fratelli tutti’ be considered a roadmap for the leader of the 21st century?

R.- Fratelli Tutti is a spectacular document. Born at the time of the pandemic, it makes a very serious and profound analysis of today’s world, which it describes as living under the “shadows of a closed world”, with insecure leaders and fearful societies that close in on themselves. But it does not stop at the diagnosis, the good thing about Fratelli Tutti is that offers solutions, tells us what service-based policy should be like, how to create a culture of encounter, how to educate for a new civilization of love. It is the culture of encounter, which creates social friendship. We will learn and put all these principles into practice in this master’s degree, to transform the communities and societies in which we work and live.

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