25th November 2003 - Heroic Leadership

450 Years ago the Jesuits formed their "company"; in "Heroic Leadership" by Chris Lowney their story is told and many of the factors which made this institution are identified. Lowney makes the case that the leadership principles that made the Jesuit company successful through more than four centuries are the same that applies today if a company or an organization should be successful; this is done through reflection on Jesuit stories and achievements combined with references to contemporary management literature.

The kernel thought in Jesuit leadership is that everyone is a leader; and the leader is a servant. To excel in this role a leader needs to integrate four pillars of energy into her life: Self-Awareness, Ingenuity, Love and Heroism. None of these pillars will be enough in themselves, and leadership can not be dissected into these either. Leadership is the balancing and harnessing of these energies into a quest for strategic goals.

The word strategic is probably slightly wrong in modern terminology; the word should rather be: Vision. The Jesuit organization empowers the individual, and every individual operates in "Magis"; Latin for "More". The Jesuits are exhorted to always "choose and desire" a strategic option that is more conductive to their goals. This approach has meant that the Jesuits as an organization have survived in centuries with great turmoil as well as long lines of communication.

The book is inspiring reading in it self; yet the leadership study of the Jesuit way is interesting. It appears to hold many of the best practices that have not been uncovered until in recent years of management literature. Furthermore, the strategy –or rather- its flexibility seems to be much in line with the thoughts behind applying maneuver warfare strategies to cope with the insecurity in today’s volatile business world. Additionally, the Jesuits coaching of the individual appears to have grasped many of the approaches to reaching the full human potential that we consider modern and progressive today –only they did it more than four centuries ago!

In general a very interesting book and the case of the Jesuits appear to have great relevancy for my CALM research.

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Updated 2003-11-25

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The official homepage of Morten Middelfart and CALM. Computer Aided Leadership and Management (CALM) is an inspirational speculation on where mankind may be heading in the quest to leverage computer potentials for helping individuals and organizations to self-actualize their symbiotic potentials.

The time frame for this well-informed and provocative speculation on relatively near-term and more distant potentials is clearly within mankind's grasp. Dr. Middelfart argues persuasively that within the next one or two decades, symbiotic links with "intelligent machines" will surely leverage people's potentials, far beyond all human progress to date!

Altogether, a tour de force of well-informed contemporary insights and maturely reasoned speculation; affording possible stepping stones and a creative springboard for what may lie ahead. As has been said: "Man's reach should exceed his grasp; else what's a heaven for?”


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