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Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company That Changed the World Paperback – January 1, 2005
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“In his book, Heroic Leadership, Chris Lowney uses the history and tradition of the Jesuit order to articulate a model for authentic, moral leadership. As Governor of Colorado, Heroic Leadership helped me think about how to lead better than any other book out there.”
From the Inside Flap
Leaders make great companies, but few of us truly understand how to turn ourselves and others into great leaders. One company—the Jesuits—pioneered a unique formula for molding leaders. In the process, the Jesuits built one of history’s most successful companies.
Founded in 1540 by ten men with no capital and no business plan, the Jesuits have been a source of innovation and discovery ever since. In this groundbreaking book, Chris Lowney, a former Jesuit and executive with J. P. Morgan, reveals the leadership principles that have guided Jesuit leaders in their diverse pursuits for more than 450 years.
The Jesuits’ enduring success rests upon four core leadership pillars:
• self-awareness: Understand
your strengths, weaknesses, values, and worldview
• ingenuity: Confidently innovate and adapt to a changing world
• love: Engage others with a positive attitude that unlocks their potential
• heroism: Energize yourself and others with heroic ambitions and a passion for excellence
By incorporating these principles into their daily lives, the Jesuits built an organization that has operated a highly efficient international network of trade, education, missionary work, and scholarship for almost five centuries. Lowney shows how these same principles can make each of us a dynamic leader in the twenty-first century.
“I am confident that I would have been a far more effective leader if I had read Heroic Leadership years ago.
—Ron Burkard, Executive Director, World Neighbors
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780829421156
- ISBN-13 : 978-0829421156
- Dimensions : 6 x 1 x 9 inches
- ASIN : 0829421157
- Publisher : Loyola Press; Reprint edition (January 1, 2005)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #132,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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My mother attended a convent boarding school in England, run by The Faithful Companion of Jesus, an order of Jesuit Nuns. I hadn't realized how deeply her Jesuitical education had influenced her parenting until I read this book and recognized the strong tenets of taking personal responsibility, striving to see another's perspective at all times, coping with whatever life threw at you, and "living with one foot raised".
Beyond the leadership knowledge the book so clearly imparts, I was fascinated to read about the contributions the Jesuits made to modern organization such as the Gregorian Calendar. An altogether enjoyable read.
I loved the little gems sprinkled throughout the book. How does one discover and nurture a capacity for ingenuity, for heroism, for love and above all for a healthy self-awareness.
If you have met a Jesuit you liked, this book will help you understand why he choose to be one in simple, understandable, everyday terms. No spiritual razzle-dazzle or mumbo jumbo. Just down to earth stuff about having the courage to look at yourself honestly and fully live your life. That takes courage, work, and persistence and it pays off on a daily basis in an attitude towards life that is rooted in realism yet animated by a spirit of freedom and choicefulness.
The book is more about the Jesuits than about leadership per se, so if you are of the Sam Harris school of Atheist Fundamentalism you would probably prefer another book, say the Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun or Winnie the Pooh.
If you have a more open mind on such matters, read this to find out why the personal and organizational insight of a 16th century Spanish soldier turned mystic has produced such remarkable results for the past 450 years.
To my ears, most ring true today. Regardless of your faith or lack of faith.
Lowney takes as his thesis the idea that the same precepts that have animated the success of the Jesuit order can likewise inspire personal and business accomplishment. I have to say he has me convinced. He boils down concepts - like Cura Personalis, Magis, and Ad majorem dei gloriam - that will be familiar to those who attended Jesuit schools to what he describes as the four integrated "pillars" of leadership: Self-awareness, Ingenuity, Love and Heroism. He then uses the history of the Jesuit order to demonstrate how, through application of the four pillars, the Society of Jesus grew from a motley band of 10 likeminded University students of different nationalities, with no agenda beyond doing work "to help souls," to become arguably the most successful and influential Catholic religious order.
Lowney's work is not without controversy, especially his contention that the Jesuit's' leadership lessons can be replicated minus their overtly religious agenda. No doubt the order's founder, Inigo (Latinized to Ignatius) of Loyola - for whom doing it "for the glory of God" was all that mattered - would disapprove. However secular research would suggest that the 16th century Basque had some very profound insights that have application beyond turning back the tide of the Reformation and making converts worldwide. I have to say I find Ignatius to be an intensely attractive character, not least because he advocated active engagement in the world, not withdrawal from it. Here's a guy who for most his life just can't get it quite right - and who along the way experiences some incredible reverses - but who never stops trying to perfect his muddled thinking. He just keeps plugging away until it starts to become clear. And it turns out that it's his very lack of success that leads to his deepest insight: that an intensive regimen of active self-reflection will help him make better decisions.
What resonated with me during my most recent reading was how the Jesuit order faced the daunting task of preserving their purpose in remote lands among peoples with unfamiliar traditions - the same challenge facing my organization. Lowney provides many examples of how the Jesuits succeeded at that task. The training that the novice Jesuit undergoes involves frank self-examination, the letting go of attachments (the concept of "indifference" or the freedom to choose any course of action unencumbered by ingrained habits and prejudices), while learning, through active and repeated self-reflection, to validate one's own instincts to action. This creates a confident, prepared and self-reliant individual, eager to embrace life's challenges. In addition, the Jesuits teach a methodology for self-reflection - the Spiritual Exercises and the Examen - that can be used (the Examen everyday) to reinforce their initial training. Their selection process is tough - they take only the best and most purposeful. Those who are selected are encouraged to innovate and shown how love adds passion and purpose to the pursuit of heroic ambitions. The result, says Lowney, is an organization that can adapt easily to radically different circumstances while preserving it's core values (the same "preserve the core, stimulate progress" that Built to Last author Jim Collins sees as the hallmark of companies of enduring greatness).
At times during my visit to our new overseas location I found myself wondering if our task was just too daunting, the culture just too alien, to hope to transplant our unique brand. After reading how the Jesuits managed it, I feel more confident than ever that my organization can do likewise and should do likewise - not shrinking from full-out engagement - through the innovative application of our fundamental values to this new environment. Thanks Chris, and Inigo, for the reinvigorating lesson!