November 19, 2021

Worship and Evangelization Outreach / Ken Ogorek

Sharing three key traits of an ideal Catholic leader

Ken OgorekPatrick Lencioni’s book, The Ideal Team Player, identifies three traits— humble, hungry and smart—as very helpful for leadership team members, including the leader, to have and to cultivate.

In my retreat work with Catholic leadership teams (for example, parish staffs) I’ve found it very fruitful to focus first on how these traits make us better disciples of Jesus, then move on to their role in helping us serve God’s people more effectively by His grace and mercy.

Here are a few thoughts I tend to share on retreats and days of reflection with various Catholic audiences.


It’s often helpful to know what a thing is not, as well as what it is. Humility is not humiliation. Neither is humility the same as false modesty.

A humble person, then, has two traits (among others).

  • Humble people are comfortable knowing they’re creatures, not the Creator.
  • Humble folks are also aware of their woundedness.

We’re all wounded by original sin. We all struggle at times to behave as we should. A humble person knows that createdness and woundedness are among the great equalizers. No disciple of Jesus is greater than her or his Master—or superior in dignity to any other human person.


Zealots are no fun to be around; they suck the joy out of many situations. Zeal, though—properly understood—is essential for disciples of Jesus and valuable on a Catholic leadership team.

Lencioni might say that hunger shows itself in a strong work ethic, coupled with a healthy work/life balance. I like pointing out that zeal for doing God’s work in our life enhances our disciple relationship with Jesus as well as how we serve in roles of Catholic leadership.

To be zealous without being a zealot helps us function effectively as leaders and teammates. Hunger so described is one of a few ideal traits for fruitful Catholic leadership.


Common sense and empathy go a long way toward successful careers and relationships.

A people-smart person has a high degree of common sense about how communication is likely to be received by the intended audience—whether the recipient of what’s said/how it’s said is an individual or a group.

Emotional intelligence like this is among the most precious transferable life skills a person can possess and cultivate.

Beyond humble, hungry and smart, it’s fruitful to encourage Catholic leadership team members to consider what additional traits make for ideal coworkers in the vineyard.

(Ken Ogorek is the director of catechesis for the archdiocese.)

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