ND Expert: Qualities Pope Francis will need as a CEO

Author: Shannon Chapla

James O'Rourke

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected by the College of Cardinals today in Rome as the new pontiff of the Catholic Church. He has taken the name Francis.

As the 266th occupant of Saint Peter’s chair in the Vatican, the new pontiff can be certain of at least a few things: No CEO in the world will receive more scrutiny, none will have more key stakeholders to answer to, and no CEO will face a greater range of challenges, according to James S. O’Rourke, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame.

In order to succeed, O’Rourke says, Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will need a strategic vision.

“Pope Francis will not be a caretaker whose mission is to support the status quo,” O’Rourke says. “A strategic vision for where he wants to take the Church and its 1.2 billion members globally will be essential, and he won’t be able to do this alone. It will require strong teambuilding skills. He will have to bring in people of high intellect, strong moral quality and well developed management skills.”

O’Rourke says Pope Francis will rely heavily on carefully honed financial skills.

“Vatican insiders are never confronted with the sorts of financial challenges that face bishops and archbishops; as a result, they never develop the income statement and balance sheet skills they’ll require to lead the Church in the 21st century.”

Finally, the new pope will need charismatic empathy.

“He will need not only to be able to understand on a personal level how people live and the challenges of their daily lives,” O’Rourke says, “but he must be able to convince them that he can direct a pathway to a better life through faith and spirituality.”

Contact: James S. O’Rourke, 574-631-8397, James.S.ORourke.2@nd.edu