Leadership lessons learned from nuns – Sr. Carol Barnes, SC

by | Jan 9, 2015 | Vincentian Family

Bingen Nuns

Jo Piazza writes… People make a joke when I tell them that Catholic nuns are some of the best managers and leaders I have ever met.

“Because they rule with an iron ruler,” one colleague guffawed at me. Yeah, yeah. Angry nuns wielding rulers over recalcitrant children is a stereotype that the sisters just can’t seem to shake.

What most people forget is that Catholic nuns are both entrepreneurs and leaders. These are women who ran hospitals and grade schools and were among the very first female presidents of universities. They have been sitting in management positions for the past century.

Nuns are collaborators, delegators, and team players. They don’t rule with an iron fist or an iron ruler. In fact, they do just the opposite.

Over the past three years, I set out to shatter the stereotypes about nuns while reporting and writing my new book, If Nuns Ruled the World: Ten Sisters on a Mission. And along the way, the nuns helped me become a much better manager and leader.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned on the journey. (Sister Carol Barnes, SC is one of the nuns she cites)

1. Nuns Get it Done

Hanging out with a bunch of Catholic nuns is the exact opposite of what you’d think it would be. In fact, it’s similar to a brainstorming jam session at a startup—an incredibly effective one….  In each of these cases, there was no wavering, no waiting to plow through red tape, no moment of doubt. They saw a problem that needed a solution, and they immediately took action.

2. A Leader is Only as Good as the Team

Time and time again, I found that nuns were more focused on the success of the organization and the team than they were on their own success….Sister Carol Barnes serves on The Foundling board of trustees overseeing quality and mission integration for the nonprofit that serves thousands of children and families in crisis in New York City.

“For me as a leader, I think about how I can serve the mission of the organization. That is the primary responsibility,” Sister Carol said to me when I asked her about her leadership strategies. “The second thing is to identify the individuals who enable me to enlarge my own leadership ability. I’m a team leader. I value open discussion.”

3. Enjoy the Journey

… Now, I think about it before I call team meetings or implement a new project.

Love the journey.
Live and work your passions.
Make mistakes.
Give yourself away each and every day.
Always be grateful.
Integrity is your most powerful asset.
Your greatest strength is your greatest weakness.
Vision, no matter how right, can only be delivered through relationships.
Success is only success if everyone feels the win.
Don’t overcomplicate.

Be sure to read the whole article Leadership Lessons learned from nuns

Graphic of Hildegard of Bingen from Wikipedia