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Ken Adelman
Political advisor

Ken Adelman

A Reagan-era Ambassador and Arms Control Director, Ken Adelman is co-founder and vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which offers executive training and leadership development.

'Mine own teaching'

Q: Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to deal with the Church's sex scandal raises this question: Can a leader hold managers to account on an issue where his own past performance is in question?

Yes, as long as that manager admits his own past errors, and acknowledges openly that he expects better from others than he delivered himself.

This approach is not new. In Merchant of Venice, Portia, the star of the show, admits as much: "I can easier teach 20 what were good to be done, than to be one of the 20 to follow mine own teaching."

Fittingly in today's context, she muses on how "it is a good divine that follows his own instruction" and "if to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men's cottages princes' palaces."

Every leader must decide top priorities -- not more than three. During the span of these scandal-ridden years, the now-Pope's focus was on purity of theological doctrine rather than purity of pastoral behavior. His interest was intellectual, not administrative. He saw the threat to the Church coming from those outside attacking it on abortion, celibacy, liberation theology, etc. rather than those within abusing power and, with it, children.

In short, the Pope's fault was not in performing poorly on something he cared about, but rather not caring about something he should have. From what we now know, it was a ghastly error.

By Ken Adelman

 |  March 30, 2010; 6:02 AM ET
Category:  Religious leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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