If you followed the news this past week, then you heard Pope Francis visited the United States and President Obama waited for him on the runway. The President of the United States doesn’t wait on the runway for anyone’s plane to arrive. Period. It’s not protocol.

The Obvious

On the surface, it doesn’t appear President Obama and the Pope could have a relationship. That is true if you only look at the issues that divide them – like the definition of marriage and religious liberty.

The Not-So Obvious

I believe the Pope has a wonderful style that makes him an effective leader. Some have called him ‘liberal’ because of their misunderstanding of his style.

The Pope is not liberal or conservative. The Pope upholds the doctrine of the Church which is grounded in universal truths. Truths are pillars that don’t change. They are the ties that bind our world together – Gravity, Mathematics….

Another truth is the way in which you effectively work with others. It all starts with a relationship… It’s what we all talk about, right?

My Point

The Pope’s style is not new or hard to understand. It’s just that we’re not used to seeing it displayed by a world figure. I use the word ‘figure’ because the reason we don’t have very many world ‘leaders’ is because they lack the Pope’s style. We need more world figures that model the Pope’s style and we would have the leaders this world so very much needs.

What is the style that we need to model?

The Pope has worked with President Obama on Cuba and climate change. The small wins from working elbow-to-elbow on these issues they have in common has given them the opportunity to build a relationship. Once a relationship is built, it’s easier to address the issues that divide them.

The leadership that the Pope models is the important step before collaboration has a chance at any level.

THAT’S why President Obama waited for the Pope on the runway and that’s why if you follow this important step, your efforts at collaboration will be more fruitful.


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