Experts in Leadership envision the future of the Jesuit works around Europe.

Mahatma Gandhi, Mao Zedong, Richard Nixon and Saint Ignatius of Loyola were very different one from the other but they had something in common. They were all leaders. 

When you look at a list of attributes of a leader you might find characteristics like: a leader is someone who is a great communicator, someone who exhibits confidence, someone who has intuition, etc. Surely many leaders share these traits but we cannot consider they all exemplify the same values and are not fitted for the same types of organisations. That is why, when we talk about leadership we cannot only focus only on the leader. We need to consider other variables like the “purpose” the leader aims to achieve, the “followers” the leader wants to guide towards that purpose, and the links they exists between them (leader, follower and purpose). Once we have clarified this we will be able to understand the difference between all the leaders.

This is one of the many ideas that were shared during the meeting of “Leadership initiatives across Europe” that was held in Barcelona on the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of January. Several experts on leadership of Jesuit institutions met to discuss what they considered were the key elements of a leadership inspired by an Ignatian approach.  

The participants had the chance to discuss their view of how leadership is transmitted in their works, their provinces and the overall Society of Jesus. “This has been the first time a meeting like this has taken place in Europe” said Father John Dardis, newly appointed General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning, “we have high hopes and dreams for the future in relation to leadership in the Society of Jesus” 

Since the beginning of the meeting, an urge for good leadership in our institutions and provinces was seen as one of the most important needs the Society is facing. “Having a clear purpose aligned with the mission, transformational leaders, and well-formed followers is essential to have energised apostolates” added one of the participants. How to do this was the real question. Participants worked in language and geographical groups to study the possibilities to offer leadership training to Jesuits and lay collaborators as well as other religious orders and decision-makers in our societies. Language and culture are sometimes a barrier for these types of initiatives but the group seemed optimistic about the possibilities.

The meeting ended with a tour-de-table with participants offering some suggestions that could be given to Father General on how to proceed in this area of leadership inside the whole Society of Jesus and in Europe. The participants also committed to moving forward the initiatives that have already been launched and to offer them to those provinces that currently are not able to provide such training.

Present at the meeting: 

• Christian Marte – Kardinal König Haus

• Tobias Karcher – Lassalle-Haus

• Carlos Losada – ESADE

• Josep Maria Lozano – ESADE

• José María Guibert – Universidad de Deusto

• Elías López – Universidad de Comillas

• Ulrike Gentner – Heinrich Pesch Haus

• Johann Spermann - Heinrich Pesch Haus

• Leonard Moloney SJ – Irish Provincial

• John Dardis – General Counsellor for Discernment and Apostolic Planning 

• Diego Losada - CEP