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Humility and Leadership Go Hand in Hand

There is a fundamental truth here. Pope Francis and the Harvard Business School are aligned.


  • Pope Francis at Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives in the Vatican, 24 AprilPope Francis recorded the talk at Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives in the Vatican

Pope Francis has recorded an address for the influential TED media group, delivering a warning to the world’s “powerful” leaders.

In his TED talk, Francis says that people with power must act humbly. “If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other,” he says.
He also urged people to overcome the fear that a happy future is “something impossible to achieve”.
His talk was aired to the annual TED Conference in Vancouver, Canada.
The short talks are posted free online by the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) media organisation, whose slogan is “ideas worth spreading”.
Speakers are given a maximum of 18 minutes to present their ideas. Past speakers include former US president Bill Clinton, scientist Richard Dawkins, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and pop star Bono, although its most popular talks tend to be from less high-profile people.
They cover a vast range of subjects from “the science of happiness” to “how to spot a liar”.
In his talk, Pope Francis says: “Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more your actions will have an impact on people, the more responsible you are to act humbly.”
He says: “You will end up hurting yourself and those around you, if you don’t connect your power with humility and tenderness.
“Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power – the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.”

‘Culture of waste’

His speech touches on his own migration background and spends time retelling the story of the Good Samaritan.
“First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent ‘I’ separated from the other, and we can only build the future by standing together, including everyone.”
He says that “many of us seem to believe that a happy future is something impossible to achieve”.
Such concerns must be “taken very seriously”, but “are not invincible: they can be overcome when we do not lock our door to the outside world”.
He calls for solidarity, backs creativity and urges all to tackle the “culture of waste”, not just in goods but in people “who are cast aside by our techno-economic systems”.
Bruno Giussani, TED’s international curator, said it took more than a year, “many discussions” and several trips to Rome to make the talk happen.
He said that initially “it’s fair to say that not many [in the Vatican] knew of TED”.
The Pope’s talk was filmed in a small room at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the guesthouse where he lives in Vatican City.
He speaks in Italian but the address, which can be accessed on, is subtitled in more than 20 languages.
TED was founded in 1984 and has its origins in Silicon Valley, but its talks have broadened beyond technology to include lifestyle, culture and business.

Post Author: David Mayes

Founder, Mayo615 Technology Partners Ltd., UBC adjunct faculty, Intel alumnus, technology assessment, international business, cleantech, fly fisherman, native Californian and citizen of France, who has been very fortunate to have traveled, lived and worked all over the globe. My wonderful wife, Isabelle has reintroduced me to my French Provençal heritage.

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