By Fr. Max Oliva, S.J.
This is the third in a series of four articles on leadership. The first was on the value of self-awareness; the second on ingenuity. I am indebted to author Chris Lowney and his book, "Heroic Leadership," for the foundations of each of what he calls the 'pillars of successful leadership.'
"Leaders (who value love over fear) face the world with a confident, healthy sense of themselves as endowed with talent, dignity, and the potential to lead. They find exactly these same attributes in others and passionately commit to honoring and unlocking the potential they find in themselves and in others. They create environments bound and energized by loyalty, affection, and mutual support."
Machiavelli (1469-1527), an Italian diplomat and author of "The Prince," a handbook for politicians on the use of ruthless, self-serving, and cunning behavior, counseled leaders that "to be feared is safer than to be loved." His view of humanity as liars and deceivers, greedy for gain is in stark contrast to those who promote the dignity of the human person and the value of mutual respect. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, a man of great integrity both on and off-court, had this to say about the latter point of view:
"The most essential thing for a leader to have is the respect of those under his or her supervision. It starts with giving them respect. You must make it clear that you are working together."
Coach Wooden also made the connection between two essential aspects of leadership - respect and love:
"You must have respect, which is a part of love, for those under your supervision. Then they will do what you ask and more."
Love-driven leaders inspire because they work with passion and courage. Being valued and trusted by such a leader brings out the best in us. I know this from personal experience. My father, although encouraging in some areas, was not helpful in a number of others. As a Jesuit I have been blessed with wonderful Jesuit mentors who have had the insight to see gifts and talents in me that I was not aware of and encouraged me to develop them. I call this kind of support, "love." Perhaps you have also experienced this kind of love.
A leader who had a significant impact on all Jesuits my age, and on many laypeople as well was Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Fr. Arrupe was General Superior of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) from 1965-1983. His reflection, "Fall in Love," has profound implications for all aspects of a person's life - both personal and social. One can apply his words to the home as well as to the workplace.
"Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything."
Readers' Comments on "Ingenuity":
"This is an excellent essay for all teachers to ponder." - Tenny, retired theology professor
"I love ingenuity, but it has risks and sometimes I end up 'in the ditch.'" - Jeff, business executive
"This is a valuable tool for all in the workplace, especially for salespeople. I correlate the concept of ingenuity, both in mind and practice, with the key word, NEEDS. Needs - identification, research, validation - can lead to needs satisfaction. For me, the needs 'route of operation' includes all stakeholders - 360 degrees if you will. Needs (and wants) drive our actions and our lives." - Karl, retired sales executive
And this from the German dramatist, novelist, poet, and scientist Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe:
"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, and material assistance which no man (or woman) could have dreamed would have come his (or her) way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it."
On "Praying the News":
"As a former journalist, now crisis communications consultant and a news junkie, your suggestion of praying the daily news struck my interest. What a powerful and positive force this will create as I add it to my daily prayer and meditation." - John
NOTE: My book, "Beatitudes for the Workplace" is now on Kindle, iPad, KOBO, & Overdrive.
(July 26, 2013)