Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee
There’s an old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Last week, I gathered with a number of priests and a deacon who are all involved with parish life. They participated in a program called “Leadership 360.” It’s an evaluative instrument that helps ministers understand how their effectiveness in significant areas of leadership (communication, management, vision, etc.) is viewed by others. The program requires answering questions about how they view their own effectiveness in various areas of leadership, and are measured in relationship to how superiors, peers and others experience and view their leadership skills and ability. It takes a bit of honesty and courage to confront how people view you.
Same as in other areas of life, there are those who think that you walk on water, as well as those who think that you are just above the “dog surprise” that you try to scrape from the bottom of your shoe. Hopefully, we all realize that we fall someplace between the two. It is sometimes difficult to accept that not everyone is in love with your persona or your leadership.
I have been involved with evaluations all of my life: in the seminary as a student, in the military as a chaplain and as a professor in the seminary. It is like confession; no one enjoys those true examinations of conscience and the confession of sins, but it is necessary. Likewise, no one really enjoys evaluations, but they are a useful tool if you want to challenge yourself to grow.
As I looked around the room at those participating in “Leadership 360,” I can tell you, without naming names, that these were seasoned pastoral leaders, and I personally would be proud if they were serving as my personal parish leaders. So, why were they there? Simply to develop and grow in the areas that others determine needed attention. They were willing to subject themselves to an analysis because they loved the Church and the people they served.
I am sure there has been some surprises in areas we thought we had excelled, only to find that more work was needed. Or, areas we thought needed more work on, only to find that we were doing a far better job than we imagined.
The point of this evaluation tool is to establish a plan that helps improve our leadership to be better pastors and ministers. Although we might be set in our ways, there is always room to learn. As an old dog, the last trick I want to learn is to “roll over and play dead.” I hope that this instrument will help me, and others, become better leaders and learn the tricks necessary to help others LOVE ONE ANOTHER.
Note: This blog originally appeared as the October 18, 2016 "Love One Another" email sent to Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Milwaukee by Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. If you are interested in signing up for these email messages, please click here.