success stories

Posted March 21, 2003

Book: Pope John XXIII: Model and Mentor for Leaders
Author: Rev. Bob (Bernard R.) Bonnot
Society of St. Paul, Staten Island, NY, pp.307

Excerpt from Preface:

Pope John XXIII was one of the humankind’s notably successful leaders during the 20th century, unexpectedly so. He didn’t get the job because he was recognized as a great leader. To the contrary. He managed a revolution in one of the most conservative of human institutions. How Pope John did that provides a model for anyone who cares to learn from him.

This book is set up as a manual with case-study for leaders and managers. Each chapter briefly states an essential principle of successful managerial leadership, then studies John’s record as an exemplification of that principle, concluding with questions to help each reader apply the principle and John’s modeling of it to their own situation. Thus can John become a mentor to all who accept him.

I hope this book will lead its readers and others to look at John also as the patron saint of leadership, specifically of the managerial kind. His fame rest on what he did in four and a half short years as CEO — Chief Everything Officer — of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II declared him “blessed” in September, 2000. That is just one step short of being formally declared a “saint.” Whether and when the final step is taken, this book documents how Pope John XXIII stands as a model and mentor for leaders at all levels in all sorts of organizations, from pastors to presidents, and that he merits standing as their patron saint.

Excerpt from Book:

The lengthy recap of the Council shows John providing managerial leadership without dominating, convincing without controlling. He spoke and acted forcefully, but always with respect for others. He gave others the freedom necessary to make their own moves, even to oppose him, though not to oppress others. He relied on persuasion, not on brute power or formal authority.

John set clear goals for the Council — truth, unity, and peace; doctrinal penetration and the formation of consciences; renewal of the Church and an improved way of relating to other believers and to the world at large. Believing as he did that the spirit in which things were done was more important than the deeds themselves, he established a tone of freedom and respect in the Council’s work. John’s goals were open and John consistently refused to fill in the details. That was for the Council to do.

In calling a Council, John started a unique process. Having set it up, he respected its nature and its autonomy. When conflict emerged, he stayed true to his fundamental propositions, insisted on fair play among those involved, remained optimistic about the outcome, and sought to instill that spirit in those who were engaged in debate. He did not seek to destroy the old. He merely wanted to point a way to the new and open it.

Through and with the Council, John infused the entire Church with fresh air – a new sense of meaning and movement in a new direction. By the end of the first session he was sick unto death with cancer. The whole world knew he did not have much longer to live. Yet ill as he was, John spent six more months in an energetic and determined pursuit of his third goal, peace.

Table of Contents:


Starting Point: Getting the Job

Part I: Getting Set

Chapter 1: Setting a Tone

Chapter 2. Setting a Course

Chapter 3. Setting a Strategy

Chapter 4. Assembling a Team

Chapter 5. Establishing an Administrative Routine

Chapter 6. Crafting a Message

Chapter 7. Using the Media

Chapter 8. Using Time

Part II: Getting the Job Done

Chapter 1: Execution One: Toward Ecumenical Unity

Chapter 2: Execution Two: Toward Pastoral Truth

Chapter 3. Execution Three: Toward World Peace


The Leadership Wisdom of John XXIII