Last week, Americans got a glimpse into the magical attraction people around the world have to the current Pope. He is known and loved for his understated style in light of the pageantry of his position (for instance, he drives a Ford Focus in Italy and rarely is surrounded by teams of Vatican security), his love of people – all people, his humility, and his ability to influence global discussions.
I find it remarkable that someone in a position of such authority in the Catholic Church can teach us so much about personal branding, authenticity, and impact.
Here are three things I observed during his recent visit:
- He is magnetic. Aside from your religious beliefs and preferences, nearly all viewers saw the absolute passion and enthusiasm crowds exhibited as they tried to catch a glimpse of him. For his religious followers, a sighting of The Pope offered hope, blessing, and redemption. For non-followers, his almost celebrity status as someone positive, happy, and loving drew them to him, leading crowds to wait hours just to catch a glimpse. How many of us wish we could walk on stage or enter a meeting and have our audience excited to see us, to hear our message, and receive our offer?
- He related effectively and authentically to key audiences. When The Pope addressed Congress, he did so with intention, focus, empathy, and a strong message. It was not a political statement (he is not a politician), but the context of the speech allowed him to address issues that were of global impact and importance to him and The Church. Yet, he communicated with care and authenticity to make sure the target audience received his message clearly.When faced with audiences who have the ability to impact our future and our influence, are you able to stay authentic and remain relatable or do you try to change who you are to ensure they will like you and endorse you?
- There was a marked difference in his energy, enthusiasm, and message when he addressed the people of the communities. I noted how excitedly he walked out onto the balcony of the Capitol Building. As soon as he saw the massive crowds of adoring worshipers and fans, he lit up. He was like a kid walking into Disneyland! His face beamed with joy. While he is able to relate his values, message, and offer to many audiences (i.e. politicians), he is clear about where his heart lays. Similarly, when his motorcade would push through streets – in DC, NYC, and Philly – and he was able to stop to touch a child with a disability or a baby, he showed such joy and glee. How do you show up when you’re surrounded by your fans, your supporters, and your ideal clients? Do you beam with happiness and genuine enthusiasm? I sure hope I do!
The Pope is clear about who he is. His humility, passion, and the perception of him as “everyone’s Pope” is confirmed daily in his actions.