Ignatian Leadership Conference Highlights Leading with Love

Posted by Caitlin Joyce on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 4:40 PM PDT

Conversations about leadership (or the lack there of) are happening from the office water cooler to social media. The recent New York Times article about Amazon is just one example of how workers are responding to a set of leadership standards and cultural norms within the corporate environment, and deeply desiring leadership with compassion and care at the core. As Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter, Ph.D. says: “I am completely convinced that most organizations today lack the leadership they need… I’m not talking about a deficit of 10% but of 200%, 400%, or more in positions up and down the hierarchy.”  Clearly, we are in dire need of leaders with not just vision, but heart.

Ignatian Leadership is a developing concept and an integrative process grounded in the principles, tools and practices of Ignatian Spirituality and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. It is about of a way of life rather than a set of leadership skills. Ignatian Leadership is an approach to living and leading in way that embodies a sense of self-awareness and one’s call, as well as communal awareness, and the ability to enact love in the world through compassionate action. 

Christopher Lowney, former Jesuit seminarian, managing director for JP Morgan, and author of Heroic Leadership, captures the essence of what Ignatian Leadership posits. He claims:

“We’re all leaders and we’re leading all the time, well or poorly.”

“Leadership springs from within. It’s about who I am as much as what I do.” 

“Leadership is not an act. It is my life, a way of living.” 

“I never complete the task of becoming a leader. It is an on-going process.”

Similar to other emerging models of leadership, such as Servant Leadership and Authentic Leadership, Ignatian Leadership incorporates aspects of service, authenticity, and humility. However, it also inspires leaders to respond to various circumstances and challenges from a place of love first: love of self, love of God, and love of others.

Ultimately, Ignatian Leadership is about becoming the person God intends you to be.

This past July 31st marked the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the inspiration behind Ignatian Leadership. It was also the day Magis hosted the first ever Ignatian Leadership Conference, welcoming over 100 Jesuit alumni at Seattle University’s campus for a day of learning, conversation, and sharing about Ignatian Leadership. 

Participants explored the developing concept of Ignatian Leadership and reflected upon their own lives and leadership in light of the Ignatian Leadership principles and framework. They also began to imagine how to integrate the concept into their work, communities and families by conversing and connecting with other Ignatian-inspired leaders.

Participants hailed from various professional organizations, including: Seattle Police Department, Boeing, Providence Health Services, Sala Credit Union, T-Mobile, Nordstrom, City of Redmond, South Seattle College, and more. The day featured workshops from Personal Discernment as the Foundation of Leadership to Leadership Lessons from the First Jesuit Pope. In addition, Fr. Scott Santarosa, S.J., Provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, served as keynote speaker. His talk, titled “Enacted Love: What’s love got to do with leadership?” covered examples from his time as the pastor of Dolores Mission in East Los Angeles working with the Latino communities there. In all, the conference was a meaningful day. As one conference attendee shared “The entirety of the conference reminded me to be mindful of my commitment to lead with service and humility.”

What about Ignatian Leadership stands out or resonates with you? How might you lead from a place of love in your workplace, home, or community? 

Stay tuned for more opportunities to learn about Ignatian Leadership by visiting Magis online.