Never before have we seen the kind of world-wide attention and popularity that Pope Francis has drawn in his first year of the papacy. In fact, he ranked #1 on Facebook as most talked about in 2013. From washing the feet of youth in detention during Holy Thursday mass (including two Muslims and two women), to his famous “Who am I to judge?” statement on the inclusion of homosexuals in the Church, Pope Francis is showing the world the values of being a true Ignatian Leader.
As graduates of Jesuit education, we look to Ignatian Leaders such as Pope Francis to set the example for being men and women for others as we lead and live in contemporary life. Simply put, what makes his example of leadership so special is that he leads from the heart.
So, what exactly do we mean by "Ignatian Leader"?
The Jesuits offer an approach to leadership, often called Ignatian or Ignatian-Inspired Leadership, which flows against the tide of most contemporary and dominant leadership models. Some might say that it is quite counter-cultural here in the United States. This approach to leadership is grounded in what author Christopher Lowney calls the four pillars of self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism, and lifts up leadership in a very different light. It proposes that:
- •“We’re all leaders and we’re leading all the time, well or poorly.”
- •“Leadership springs from within. It’s about who [we are] as much as what [we] do.”
- •“Leadership is not an act. It is [our] life, a way of living.”
- •“[We] never complete the task of becoming a leader. It is an on-going process.”
Therefore, an Ignatian-Inspired Leader (regardless of religious affiliation) understands and appreciates the rich gifts of the Jesuits, St. Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises, and strives to grow in self-knowledge, cultivate a healthy indifference that allows him/her to adapt confidently, honestly loves those he/she serves and leads, and humbly strives and works with others to shape an inspiring future.
We are excited to see how Pope Francis will lead in the years to come!
Magis, in partnership with Seattle University Alumni Relations, encourages you to learn more about Ignatian Leadership on May 8th as part of the SU Advantage Networking series. Seattle University President Fr. Stephen Sundborg, S.J. will be joined by a diverse panel of alumni from varying professions to share insights about their lived experience of leadership, including an opportunity for structured networking.
Also, if you happen to be a young alum in your twenties or thirties, consider applying for Magis'; Contemplative Leaders in Action, a two year alumni leadership development program which blends spiritual formation and secular leadership training. Applications will be available starting April 15th, so be sure to mark your calendar!