Tag Archives: leadership

Young Swiss Guard shares lessons he learned from John Paul II that helped him succeed in business

October 14, 2011

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Ever since Tom Peters’ “In Search of Excellence” turned business improvement into a hot booksellers category, the printing presses have been revolving in earnest, pumping out titles to capture that audience of eager leaders and managers.

There have been a handful of valuable books as a result, works like “Good to Great,” “The Tipping Point,” “Swim with the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” and “Made to Stick,” to name just a few.

A former Swiss Guard who has gone on to success in international business might not be the first person you’d think of to jump into this authorship arena, especially when he’s saying he learned how to succeed in business by observing Pope John Paul II.

“The Pope & The CEO” (Emmaus Road Publishing) isn’t the first business book to bring ethics into the conversation, nor is it the first to pull lessons from religion. But this one is done very, very well. It’s tasteful, it’s respectful, and most of all the lessons that Andreas Widmer shares are valuable.

This isn’t a Pollyanna piece. Widmer, a Swiss native who studied in both Europe and the United States and who has worked on five continents, has seen both success and disappointment in his business activity since leaving the ranks of the pope’s protectors. In his 20-plus years of leading technology firms with a global reach, though, he found that John Paul II was quite the role model for business leaders.

Those attributes that Widmer gleaned while standing guard in colorful garb at the Vatican he turns into lessons that will help every leader in every organization. And what makes this book such good reading is that the advice is peppered with anecdotes from the author’s time in the presence of the Holy Father that were those “teachable moments” that made a lasting impression on an impressionable young Andreas Widmer.

He writes about being true to one’s calling, knowing and doing what’s right, having a vision, about teamwork, humility, the power of prayer and more, and each chapter ends with a handful of questions for readers to ponder. Here are just a few examples:

  • What have been your greatest professional successes? What did you gain? What did it cost you? How did it change you?
  • Who was the best manager you ever had? Describe what made this leader great? Did this person lead as a coach or a critic? How did he or she bring out the best in you as an employee?
And Widmer’s Catholic faith — thanks to the example displayed by John Paul II — is an influence on literally every word.
“John Paul’s influence made me understand that business and faith go together — they are not opposed to each other,” he writes. “Business can be wonderful school of virtue and faith. What’s more, faith and virtue make a business and the economy truly prosperous.”
Readers will find practical advice throughout the 150 or so pages of this paperback.
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12 Slices of Advice for Good Catholic Leaders — and Those Who Want to Be

October 14, 2011

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Andreas Widmer observed Pope John Paul II closely during the two years he served as a Swiss Guard. He writes in “The Pope & The CEO” that the lessons he learned watching the late Holy Father offer great suggestions for business. (Read a review.)

Here are a dozen slices of that advice pried from that Emmaus Road paperback:

1. Encourage employees by making them feel they matter and are valued.

2. Realize that it is the person, every specific human person, who counts in business. Business exists for the person, not the person for the business.

3. Know that your vocation is what God made you to do, it’s what you do for God, and it gives meaning to your life.

4. Be aware that work can be a holy thing. All work, not only that of priests and religious, can be holy when done as an act of love, service and sacrifice.

5. Understand that God made each person to do something unique, something that nobody else before or after us was made to do and that nobody else can do quite as well.

6. Pray because it is at the heart of everything you do. It shapes you, guides you and gives you the strength to lead and to inspire others.

7. Learn from God as you pray, hear God’s voice leading you, and be prepared to change and become the person God made you to be.

8. See prayer as a tool for justice and mercy that helps you to treat others with both.

9. Acknowledge your dependence on God and in doing so appreciate humility as a virtue.

10. Value business as life-giving when a group of individuals participate in God’s creative power, when people work together to pursue a common good by giving life to an idea, a product or a service.

11. Be fully present to anyone to whom you are with, keenly aware of what is going on in the heart and mind of that person, and far more interested in what that person has to say to you than what you have to say to them.

12. Help people understand that you want the truth, even when the truth is hard. Foster an atmosphere or culture where honesty is rewarded. Train yourself to discern fact from fiction.

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Catholic leaders’ new ‘To-Do’ list

October 14, 2011

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Former Swiss Guard Andreas Widmer, writing in “The Pope & the CEO,” includes a “new to-do-list” in the book. (See the review.) Here is an excerpted version from the Emmaus Road book.

1. Determine who the five to ten most important people in your life are. . . . Ask yourself what small thing you can do to bring them joy every day or week. Then, in the next 30 days, do it.

2. Start keeping a personal log of God’s small wonders, small messages that he gives you every day. Think of it as a gratitude log. Review it daily and rejoice as you give thanks.

3. Think of the activities you enjoy most. Pick four, then make room in your calendar to do each one sometime during the next 30 days.

4. Diligently use up your vacation time every year. No excuses.

5. Make Sundays truly a day of rest. That means no “for profit” work. Instead go to church, and then spend the rest of the day with family or friends. Try the concept of finding ways to purposefully “waste time” with them.

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