Leadership in the Real World Interview

Excerpt from Interview :

Leader Analysis and Critique

Fr. Joe is an independent pastor who operates a seminary for students who want to become Catholic priests. He also engages in missionary activity and frequently flies (almost every weekend) to various destinations around the country and sometimes going abroad to other countries in Central and South America, Asia and Europe. He is known for his charismatic approach to the faith and his followers find him to be firm in doctrine and kind towards people. As a leader he demonstrates numerous skills, such as emotional and social intelligence at times—however, after observing Fr. Joe it also becomes apparent that on some occasions he does not engage these skills and will completely miss what people are showing or saying to him through their words and/or body language. In these cases, some factors that might be impacting him and impeding his effectiveness as a leader include being tired from his travels and not getting much sleep. Fatigue sometimes weighs heavy on Fr. Joe and causes him to ramble in his responses to people and to distract him from the point that he was making when he first started talking or from the issue that a particular person approached him with. Then he will dismiss the person with a vague reply that will seem unsatisfactory. Still, on other occasions, when Fr. Joe is well-rested, he will reply with great depth and insight and care and show careful consideration to the people with whom he is speaking.

My interview with Fr. Joe and my observations of him revealed that he has strong leadership abilities that reflect aspects of servant leadership and transformational leadership but that he also demonstrates shortcomings in leadership that stem from a lack of personal care and attention to his own needs. In other words, Fr. Joe would benefit from more attention to his own person and less to his followers—but as his character is such that he feels he must always be engaged with work (even if he is half-asleep) this problem of not always being an effective leader is likely to persist until he realizes he can be more effective if he takes time away from engaging with his followers and allowing himself to rest.

I selected Fr. Joe for my interview because I know him personally, having met him through friends and having admired his tenacity and zeal. Fr. Joe does not describe himself as a leader but rather identifies himself by his role as a priest and an instructor of the faithful or “flock” as he calls them. He regularly refers to Christ as his inspiration and views his job in life as one who must follow in Christ’s footsteps and feed the sheep—i.e., the faithful, by providing them with sermons and sacraments. Fr. Joe became a priest more than 30 years ago under the Fraternity of St. Pius X, an organization he was released from five years ago. Now he serves as pastor to various chapels around the country where people desire his services as their chaplain. It is in this capacity that he reflects elements of servant leadership, as he goes wherever he is requested no matter the cost of getting there. He posts his sermons on YouTube so that people can see what he says, and when he is invited to speak, he readily agrees so long as he can fit it in his schedule. The fact that he also runs a seminary often stretches him thin and can lead to conflicts of time and scheduling for him. He tries to do too much at times—but with his seminarians, he demonstrates elements of transformational leadership in that he is trying to turn them from secular young men into spiritual young men who want to follow in Christ’s footsteps. To this end, he supplies them with a vision, motivation and support for achieving their aim. However, because Fr. Joe is at odds with his bishop, the problem of who will ordain his seminarians is a frustrating one for Fr. Joe and his pupils. This is another aspect of Fr. Joe’s leadership that is flawed: he does not put his own personal tastes on hold when it comes to taking orders from his superiors, and this leads him to get into trouble with them so that they will not come to his seminary and ordain his seminarians so that they can be priests.

My takeaways from my interview with Fr. Joe are that as a leader who engages in servant leadership, one must be attentive to the needs of others—i.e., one’s followers but also to the needs of one’s superiors. Fr. Joe is frequently attentive to the needs of his followers but does not provide his superiors with the same show of consideration. He typically rails against his superiors and demonstrates a lack of compassion for them, which makes him seem like he alone should be in charge of everything. An effective leader would do better to take orders as well as he gives them. As a leader who demonstrates transformational leadership skills, Fr. Joe would benefit from transforming himself into a good follower as well so that his seminary could be more successful and not frustrated by the fact that it is cut off from the local bishop, who will not ordain the seminarians because Fr. Joe does not follow orders. How these takeaways might apply to HR are simple: a leader in HR has both followers and superiors and must consider the needs of both and be attentive to serving both. It would not help the organization as a whole were a leader in HR to serve only his followers while disregarding the orders of his superiors.

My suggestion to Fr. Joe would be to make peace with his bishop so that he can truly help to get his seminarians ordained. This would also allow him to get more help from his bishop in terms of teachers and other priests to assist with his missions. Right now he relies almost exclusively on his own self, but his energy cannot last forever and his level of engagement with others reflects this at times.

I do think that leaders can change and I think that Fr. Joe himself has changed over time as a leader. He used to be stationary and have only one chapel when he was still under his bishop, but now, having fought with his bishop, he goes wherever he chooses and his followers all tend to be people who have problems with their local bishops and priests (which is why he is called there by them). Fr. Joe has taken some steps to improve his leadership behavior in terms of listening to his followers and trying to help them—but he does not always know the best way to help them and in fact sometimes his followers will get upset with him just as they did with their local bishop or priest and they will stop requesting his services. The problem, as I see it, is that neither Fr. Joe nor his followers are willing to put differences aside and work together with those who are above them—and this is the source of the problems that Fr. Joe continues to face as an independent priest. Hopefully he can change his ways and adopt a friendlier approach to his bishop in the future, because currently his leadership style is disrupting the Church’s unity and he is helping to aggravate divisions among the Church’s faithful. Instead of working to heal, he is happy to divide, which seems contrary to following in Christ’s footsteps, but Fr. Joe says that it really isn’t as Christ also caused divisions and that what is important is the truth—not that everyone gets along.

This is what is most interesting about Fr. Joe’s leadership: he is committed to transparency and openness because he…

Cite This Interview:

"Leadership In The Real World" (2018, April 17) Retrieved December 19, 2018, from

"Leadership In The Real World" 17 April 2018. Web.19 December. 2018. <

"Leadership In The Real World", 17 April 2018, Accessed.19 December. 2018,


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