In corporate-speak, what Pope Benedict XVI did today is succession planning. The surprise resignation announcement isn’t good practice by business-world standards. But at the Vatican, the move is revolutionary, something no pope has done in six centuries. Only death could end the tenure of most popes. If you think of him as the CEO of a global faith, the move can be seen as bold, forward-thinking management.
“To have said to the church, ‘we need people who can do this faster, better and be more nimble than I can at 85,’ I think that’s a profound statement of a manager,” says Thomas Harvey of Notre Dame’s business school, a former CEO of Catholic Charities USA.
The Pope’s resignation is getting high marks from church watchers. But other management moves fell short. He made cleaning up shady Vatican finances a priority. But that task, which has challenged other popes, is far from finished. Critics also say his leadership was weak on confronting sexual abuse scandals.