Healthy Leadership in Healthcare: The Pope Francis Formula

by Erny Gillen

Reviewed by Eileen Quinn Knight, Ph.D. Profiles in Catholicism


Of course, Professor Gillen wrote this before the Coronavirus, however, he has produced a practical guide and syllabus, translating Pope Francis’s concern into the situation of sick people and hospitals. Gillen pedagogically develops Pope Francis’ Method using the image of an eight-sided dice that helps us to understand and practice the Formula. The eight faces of this special dice present eight fields for action and inflection that we can influence and transform. Even as patients, we can take action and change our lives responsibly. He applies four priority preferences offered by the Holy Father, giving examples for patients, and also for doctors and nurses. As an expert in healthcare, who knows about the daily pain and needs of patients, he also demonstrates how the method can be applied to patient-doctor dialogue and to the governance and management of healthcare facilities. A good method of orientation is especially valuable when the road is dangerous as it is now with the coronavirus and the way ahead is obscured by fog and darkness. In Part 2 of his book, Erny Gillen shows how the Holy Father uses this method with wisdom to move ahead with the big questions concerning the family and, most importantly our common home. As this method demonstrates we all benefit when we understand why time is greater than space when we act, why unity prevails over conflicts and why realities are more important than ideas and finally why the whole is greater than the part. The hospital, as a modern refuge of humanity, leads people on a journey towards recovery, but the path is narrow and requires conscious ethical leadership that links everyone together in the service of health. This book, therefore, addresses patients as well as medical staff and introduces an innovative language-game both for self-leadership and guided leadership on the often arduous and precarious path of health. This book, Healthy Leadership has been inspired by the works of Pope Francis. His leadership is marked by humility and resolve on the one hand, and a clear, if less visible method, on the other. The Leadership Formula of Pope Francis is explicitly embedded in the social teachings of the Catholic Church and is situated at the interface between the Church and the world. Pope Francis is a shining example of how healthy leading can be accomplished. He is a follower of Jesus in the truest sense and I thank him with all my heart for his courage and his Leadership Formula. These principles are: time is greater than space; unity prevails over conflict; realities are more important than ideas; the whole is greater than the part. This works in concrete situations and lays the groundwork for the conclusion that difficult conversations about disease and hospitals can be conducted sensibly and reasonably. The Formula can support and provide a common framework for understanding and communication. The eight-sided dice opens up a particular language-game that has health and healing at its center. Pope Francis has thoughts on leadership with the words: “Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us, as Christians, are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its peoples”. During this difficult time, this book is filled with the Spirit and knowledge of our Pope and the wisdom of Professor Gillen. It is an invaluable book to read and to love.

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