When we first wrote about modern leadership, we were surprised to hear some of the most salient thoughts coming from a ninety-year old man. At Beit Hanassi, the Israeli White House, we met the President himself, Shimon Peres. Peres commanded the Israeli navy in the struggle for independence and spent his entire adult life in the highest ranks of a power structure that was almost entirely male. Many men in his position are uncomfortable with change, but Peres believes that the hyper-masculine style of leadership that had brought us into the 21st Century is no longer adequate. Israel and the world need something more if peace and prosperity are to spread.
Because “men will not stop warring, and women will not stop making peace,” Peres sees an enormous, but unfulfilled role for women in the quest for security. In the economy he recognizes an ever more-inter-connected global society that requires traditionally feminine talents for communication, empathy, and collaboration. “You cannot sell goods, or services, on a global basis if you do not have good will,” he argues. And good will is built on the kind of openness and “morality” that he identifies with women. Such values are now appearing in other unlikely places. In a recent interview, Pope Francis is moving Catholic church dogma through a remarkable degree of Openness, which is one of the concepts we found key to modern leadership. The Pope announced that the church should not be obsessed with gays and abortion but instead be a “big tent” for all to come. And when asked about homosexuals who are religious Catholics, he quickly replied, “Who am I to judge?”
The Pope has also proven that he can both talk the talk and walk the walk. He is the Vicar of Christ, the Holy Father, and the Shephard of the Universal Church, among many titles. Now the Pope can add, “The Cold Call Pope” to his quickly growing resume. While past Popes have hidden behind the glass walls of their Popemobiles, this pope has reached out to Catholics by literally calling them in their time of need. It comes as no surprise that the Pope’s approval ratings are higher than ever before.
Shimon Peres told us, "We are in a new world with many old minds. Leaders must be adaptable…leaders must be servants." Serving is where leading begins.