What Good Leadership Requires

Good leadership demands humble yet courageous service on behalf of the common good of all people, according to the teachings of the Church. This includes setting a good example for others. In his monastic rule St. Benedict states: “Anyone who receives the name of abbot is to lead his disciples by a twofold teaching: he must point out to them all that is good and holy more by example than by words.”

The qualities required for a good abbot are not that different from what is required of a good civic leader. The Compenduim of the Social Doctrine of the Church observes: “In this perspective, responsible authority also means authority exercised with those virtues that make it possible to put power into practice as service (patience, modesty, moderation, charity, efforts to share), an authority exercised by persons who are able to accept the common good, and not prestige or the gaining of personal advantages, as the true goal of their work.” (par. 410).

The former abbot of Conception Abbey at Conception, Missouri (1996-2016), Gregory Polan, O.S.B., discusses the qualities necessary for good leadership in Leadership in the Rule of Saint Benedict.