Leadership is a key issue in the Society of Jesus today. If we have good leaders we will have energised apostolates reaching out to the people who are most needy. We will have apostolates that can move forward in a dynamic way, with discernment and passion.

The Conference of European Provincials is developing a course for Jesuits and lay collaborators consisting of 4 modules that focus on different aspects of a leader and that link the rich Ignatian tradition with current leadership theory.

1. Module 1 tries to answer questions like: “How can I be a good leader considering my strengths but also my faults and vulnerabilities?” Participants reflect on themselves as individuals before God, and in particular on their gifts for leadership. The starting point is our vulnerabilities and our limitations as leaders, week one of the exercises: the sinner, the person with many limitations yet loved by God.

2. The second module focuses on “How can we preserve and develop the talents of those who offer themselves for the service of Christ’s mission?” Participants learn from contemporary leadership theory about good ways of building, managing, and supporting apostolic teams and from the experience of Saint Ignatius building a team “Why did his first two teams in Salamanca and Alcalá fail while succeeding in Paris?”

3. The Society of Jesus was established in Rome, it was constantly developing new structures of government: superiors, secretaries, legislation, a system of communication. Its “way of proceeding” was continually leading the members beyond established norms for the sake of greater divine service. Inspired by this creative fidelity at the Society’s origins, the third module focuses on “What are the organizational skills required for 21st century Jesuit mission?”

4. Since Vatican II and GC 32, the Society of Jesus has been sensing a call to rediscover a commitment to the poor and marginalized. More recently, Pope Francis has written of his preference for a Church “bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets”. This final module explores “How can we develop ourselves and institutions for greater service at frontiers marked by challenges, instability, conflict, even danger? How can we help those who are most vulnerable?”

For more information please visit: ilp-cep.eu

Meeting in the heart of Rome to discuss about leadership in the Society of Jesus. Is there an Ignatian approach to leadership? This question has been flying around in Jesuit circles for some time now. A group of 6 people involved in this topic at European Level spent 4 days in Rome asking themselves this same question. This group, gathered by Fr. John Dardis SJ (Counsellor for Discernment and Planning), revised the existing theories around leadership and, at the same time, connected to their experience and knowledge of ignatian spirituality. The group is doing a big effort to go deeper on the topic. More discussions and research will be done involving the other Conferences.  In the meantime, we continue to expand our knowledge in this area by having fruitful discussions and by launching programmes and courses that provide valuable insights. Actually, at the moment, there are many good initiatives taking place throughout the structures of the Society of Jesus in relation to leadership. We see them taking place at different levels: at local level (in institutions and provinces), at conference level (inter-provincial initiatives) and at a worldwide level (networks and Roman Curia).  Most of these initiatives, if not all, include many elements that might remind us of the teachings of Saint Ignatius. For example, they leave space and times for prayer and to do the daily examen. They put emphasis on all the dimensions of the human being and its relation to God. They also put stress on the relation of the leader with his team and the quality of that relationship. They highlight the importance of doing a good use of the available resources and of managing the institutions well so they can serve the mission better… Furthermore, these initiatives draw knowledge from many relevant ignatian sources such as the Spiritual Exercises, the Constitutions, Ignatius’ Autobiography, Ignatius’ letters, Ignatius’ personal diary, the General Congregations, the teachings from Fr. Claudio Acquaviva SJ, the inspirations from Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ and many more. These courses also make use of some useful tools and resources from non-religious origins like profiling tools for self-awareness, theory on adaptive leadership, or instruments for dealing with others. However, a better question than “what” is being done might be “why” is it being done. Why are we investing time and resources in preparing leaders for the mission? There seems to be common agreement in the world that we need good leaders to manage our institutions. This is surely not something new today so why has it suddenly become a topic of interest in the Society of Jesus? We could mention many reasons but three that seem to stand out are: Before there were many Jesuits that were able to transmit their experience, knowledge and skills by osmosis to others. The large amount of Jesuits made it easier for natural leaders to appear amongst them. The diminishing of numbers in the Society of Jesus is continuously making it more difficult to transmit this knowledge and experiences from generation to generation but there is desire to keep the flame alive, a fire that kindles other fires. Secondly, with the risk of sounding too conventional, we are currently living in a very complex world where we need to address new and diverse challenges. The traditional ways of doing things are not enough anymore. We need to capacitate those leading our institutions, we need to give them the skills and tools to do their job better, but most importantly, we need to continue to provide them with the passion and love for the others, just like Jesus taught us. Thirdly, nowadays Jesuits are working closer to lay partners in mission. This is not something new, but now, maybe more than ever, we are seeing how lay collaborators are being put in positions of leadership across the Society. We see directors of retreat houses, rectors of universities, high school directors, etc. If we want the Jesuit institutions to remain ignatian we need to provide these partners in mission with experiences that allow them to live the Gospel and the teaching of Saint Ignatius so they are able to carry on with the charisma of the founder of the Society of Jesus. We encourage those reading this article to continue with their personal development and with their efforts to sense and realise the mission of the Society of Jesus. We wish to finish this short article with a quote from the founder of the Society of Jesus: “The person who sets about making others better is wasting his time, unless he begins with himself.”
The Ignatian Leadership Programme reaches Lebanon with a lot of energy and purpose “We focus on the flower that is growing, not the destruction” said Fr Fouad Nakhla SJ, the JRS Syria director, “At the frontiers, what is truly important is hope.” With these words, Fr. Nakhla gave a clear statement on what it means to really lead an organization in the midst of a crisis, at the physical and spiritual frontiers of our world. It was exactly this word: “frontiers”, the one that accompanied the participants of the Ignatian Leadership Programme throughout the whole 4th module named “Leadership for Frontier Mission”. We have already talked about the important relation between “leaders”” and “mission” in past articles (see: Link) and in this module participants had the chance of seeing this relation in action by meeting and hearing the story of several real life leaders like Fr. Fouad Nakhla SJ (JRS Syria), Kim Issa (Arc en Ciel), Fadi Halisso (Basmeh & Zeitooneh), Fr. Michael Zammit SJ (JRS Middle East), Fr. Estaban Velazquez SJ and Fr. Dany Younès SJ (Provincial of the Jesuit Near East Province). The place for this module was also very carefully chosen, it was in Taanayel, Lebanon (the Near East Province), very close to the Syrian frontier, a place of big challenges but a lot of hope. Right in the border participants had the chance to visit a Refugee Camp of 40 people (25 children and 15 women). “We have already been 5 years in this camp. Each day here is difficult, the only thing that keeps us moving forward is our kids and working to provide them with a decent future” said one of the women in the camp with watery eyes that expressed the difficulties of living in those conditions and at the same time a constant smile that gave her children strength, peace, and hope, key elements to be able to build the future that their mothers are looking forward to giving them.  This module also tried to reach back to the first module that put emphasis on how from our vulnerabilities we can grow to become better leaders, the first week of the exercises. In this module we focused on how we can help those who are most vulnerable, thus, closing the circle. Furthermore, it was not devoid of several input sessions on Ignatian Leadership at the frontiers, Adaptive Leadership, Stakeholders, Creativity and Innovation, Ignatian Freedom, Change Management, etc. Sessions that gave participants tools to implement once they went back to their respective works. After the whole week, the general feeling was of consolation, many participants were able to reflect on how much they have grown these last two years and how has this helped their works and their personal lives. We finish this article with an excerpt from the letter of GC36 “Witnesses of Friendship and Reconciliation”, a message and a prayer for Jesuits living in zones of war and conflict: “You risk your lives daily in order to reach out, humbly yet persistently, for what sometimes seems impossible, namely the peace and reconciliation longed for by Jesus Christ. […] We take this opportunity to acknowledge the testimony of humble service of all who have given their lives in such situations. […] Yours* is a testimony to the power of the Gospel; to the beautiful but painful fragility of human life; to a commitment to a ministry of friendship; to the need to witness, even to the point of death; to the fact that suffering, risk and the call to courage are part of our Jesuit lives and of our Christian vocation”. *On the original document the word “Theirs” is used but it was changed to “Yours” to make it more suitable to the lines chosen. Stay tuned for a future article on the whole Ignatian Leadership Experience!
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
The Ignatian Leadership Programme lands in Rome How many institutions exist for more than 100 years? Probably not many, just take a look at the Fortune 500 list one hundred years ago and try to guess how many are still in business, you will be surprised! Now let us take it up a notch, how many have lasted more than 500 years? The lists get considerably smaller worldwide. This is the case of the Society of Jesus, which in 2040 it will have its 500th birthday. All this was possible thanks to the amazing vision and intuition that Saint Ignatius and the first Jesuits had in Rome when they decided to establish themselves as an order instead of parting each in their own way and break links with each other. That is why the 3rd module of the Ignatian Leadership Programme organised by the CEP was held in Santa Severa, Rome. The participants were able to link with the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, understand and unite themselves in this common vision that stretches back to Saint Ignatius. Paulius Mieželis, from Lithuania, said: “During this module I feel I developed the desire and courage to work for the Jesuit Mission even more” Content ranged from Strategic Planning and vision mission and values, to Communal Discernment and the 3 times of election, to the Action Logics of organisations and revisiting the Global Leadership Profile, to many other things. But the focus, like always, was put on the process. Participants had the chance to share their experience in their works and openly discuss their concerns with other participants to grow individually and to grow their institutions. On Thursday the 8th of December the participants went from Santa Severa to the centre of Rome to meet with Father Arturo Sosa and his assistants and had the chance to visit some Ignatian sites in Rome like the Church of the Gesù, the Camerette, or the Church of Saint Ignatius. One of the participants from the Southern Europe Assistancy said: “I had a powerful personal experience in Ignatius’ rooms and the Gesù church. It was for me a moment where God was very present to me and I felt very drawn to become closer to Him”.   The journey does not end here. There is still an important aspect of the mission that was left as a legacy by Saint Ignatius and the Jesuits during these almost 500 years. We are talking about “Leadership for Frontier Mission”. We are called to lead at the frontiers since long ago, to be there where we are most needed and to accompany and serve those who are most vulnerable. This will be the focus of module 4 during the last week of June 2017. We invite you to continue feeling part of the mission that guides the Society of Jesus and its members, Jesuits, and lay collaborators.
The Ignatian Leadership Programme at Vienna.  Leadership is a buzzword nowadays and a very popular concept. Everyone seems to be aware of the need for leadership, especially after the 2008 crisis which showed such a gap in values and so many problems for our societies, for businesses, the financial sector and industry. Bad choices had been made. And, as always, it was the poorest who suffered. The Kardinal König Haus in Vienna has been offering leadership courses to a variety of lay and religious leaders over the year. More recently the Conference of European Jesuit Provincials (CEP) decided to design an Ignatian Leadership Programme, specifically for people working in Ignatian and Jesuit ministries. We know that if we want energised and spirit filled ministries, we need good leaders.  The first module was held in Manresa in Spain where Ignatius wrote the Spiritual Exercises and received so much spiritual insight. The focus of this module was the self-awareness of the leader, on vulnerability; limitations; strengths. Given the challenging service of leadership, he or she has to know himself or herself thoroughly before embarking on the journey of leadership. This corresponds to the first week of the Spiritual Exercises.  Module II, which was held in Vienna in early July. It focussesd on building a team. Ignatius recognised that he needed a team of Companions around him to support him and work with him. His first two teams did not last. We don’t know too clearly the reasons. His third team in Paris was well chosen; well formed; well supported and went to the ends of the earth to preach the mission. Can we build strong teams today of Jesuits and lay people? Are there special Jesuit insights that help with this? “We were delighted to be in Vienna” said Fr. John Dardis, CEP President. “We were very well hosted by the Austrian province and by Kardinal König Haus, in particular. The welcome we received allowed us to focus on delivering a quality programme. Many thanks to Christian Marte SJ and his team at KKH, also to Sebastian Ortner SJ who helped us for the whole week.” Module III will be in Rome, focussed on organisational issues and Module IV will be about leading at the frontiers and leading for change. The team delivering the course included an American Jesuit expert on leadership, David McCallum SJ; Sarah Broscombe an expert in the facilitation and coaching; Philip Endean SJ, an Ignatian scholar based in Centre Sèvres in Paris, Diego Losada in charge of logistics; José de Pablo SJ, the Socius to the European President and the CEP President John Dardis SJ.