Best Defense

Can you pass the Pope’s leadership exam? Take this test, or you might go to Hell!

It’s one of the tougher leadership tests I’ve seen.

Pope Francis gestures as he attends the weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on April 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE (Photo credit should read FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s one of the tougher leadership tests I’ve seen. It comes at the end of this piece by a business expert who translated into terms understandable to Americans the address given by Pope Francis to the Catholic Church’s administrative body.

Il Papa listed 15 maladies of leadership. They range from the familiar (believing one is indispensable) to less so (having closed circles).

Here are the questions the author recommends we pose to ourselves—and also pose (about yourself) to subordinates to answer:

Do I —

  • Feel superior to those who work for me?
  • Demonstrate an imbalance between work and other areas of life?
  • Substitute formality for true human intimacy?
  • Rely too much on plans and not enough on intuition and improvisation?
  • Spend too little time breaking silos and building bridges?
  • Fail to regularly acknowledge the debt I owe to my mentors and to others?
  • Take too much satisfaction in my perks and privileges?
  • Isolate myself from customers and first-level employees?
  • Denigrate the motives and accomplishments of others?
  • Exhibit or encourage undue deference and servility?
  • Put my own success ahead of the success of others?
  • Fail to cultivate a fun and joy-filled work environment?
  • Exhibit selfishness when it comes to sharing rewards and praise?
  • Encourage parochialism rather than community?
  • Behave in ways that seem egocentric to those around me?

More on lousy leadership here.

Also, a Coast Guard skipper “temporarily” relieved here. He was commander of the Cutter Steadfast in Astoria, Oregon.

Filippo Montoforte/AFP/Getty Images

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at

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