Donna Boehme – April 4, 2013 – Corporate Counsel
Compliance and ethics professionals agree that role-modeling by senior executives, starting with the CEO, is the beachhead of any ethical leadership culture in an organization. That’s because employees have an uncanny ability to detect hypocrisy in their leaders. They are adept at reading between the lines of internal announcements and closely observing what their leaders say and do. When what leaders say doesn’t match up with what they do—ethical culture takes a hit. The most powerful role models lead more by action than words. This is a lesson leaders and managers could learn just by watching the biggest, baddest new CEO on the planet, Pope Francis I.
Pope Francis began to signal that he was a different kind of leader even ashe stood on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica moments after the white smoke had cleared (literally), wearing a white cassock instead of the traditional red, erminetrimmed “mozzetta” used by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. That night, the new pope took the bus home rather than the papal limousine. When he was reported to be taking taxis around Rome, nervous Cardinals in the Vatican began to follow suit, taking regular cabs instead of the large fleet of luxury sedan cars at their disposal. Self reform and culture change, the Italian journalists giddily reported, had begun. . . .