Mon • Mar 18th, 2013 • by Tom Nees • Comments 9
The Jesuit Contribution to Leadership Wisdom
How is it that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit priest and Cardinal of Buenos Aires became Pope Francis?
More than a few Jesuit priests themselves are surprised, if not shocked given their historic aversion, and at times opposition to ecclesiastical leadership.
In a Daily Beast interview, Father James Martin, author of several acclaimed books on the order, and identified as the “Jesuit world’s poster boy” says he was “stunned into speechlessness, which,” he says, “isn’t typical for the Jesuits.”
Evidently the Vatican has an amazing capacity to co-opt its opposition.
As a result of the election of Pope Francis we are learning a lot about the Jesuit order. Jonathon Wright, Honorary Fellow at Durham University and the author of “The Jesuits: Missions, Myths and Histories” has a column with a brief history of the Jesuit culture and history and what this could mean for the future.
Among other things -
In his book “Heroic Leadership,” Chris Lowney, former Jesuit and later J. P. Morgan banker argues that in their opposition to traditional forms of “flashy” leadership and their simple mission to “help souls” the Jesuits have modeled a leadership culture from which society has a lot learn.
“Jesuits,” he writes,”trained every recruit to lead, convinced that all leadership begins with self-leadership.” In 450 years they have established an astonishing variety of social services in addition to higher education.
He suggests that there are “Four Pillars of Success” based on Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises” that can be followed by anyone and lived out anywhere: self-awareness, ingenuity, love and heroism. He devotes a chapter to each one.
By heroism, Lowney means the Jesuit motto “magis, always something more, something greater.”
He asks, “How did the Jesuits build the most successful religious company in history” and then directs the question to all of us– “And how do individuals become leaders today?”
“By knowing themselves. By innovating to embrace a changing world. By loving self and others. By aiming high.”
Loyola, Lowney writes, “described the ideal Jesuit as ‘living with one foot raised’—always ready to respond to emerging opportunities.”
The “Jesuit Contribution to Leadership Wisdom,” teaches us that,
“Everyone is a leader, and everyone is leading all of the time—sometimes in immediate, dramatic, and obvious ways, more often in subtle, hard-to-measure ways, but leading nonetheless.”
It is best to live, and lead, with “one foot up.”