Four Pillars of Leadership: The Jesuit Way ~ Fareed Raja, MBA '11
One of many advantages of attending a Jesuit school is that a lot of focus is put in cultivating the whole person - mind, body, and spirit. I attended one of the oldest Catholic Colleges in the U.S (Spring Hill College) for MBA studies. And a unique thing about majority of the curriculum was that I was taught to invest in people and give preference to 'sustainability' over 'quick money making'. It's interesting to see that the terms 'sustainability', 'corporate social responsibility', and 'going green' weren't as popular in corporate America not too long ago. But Jesuits have stayed focused on these business concepts for over 500 years.
Majority of their views aren't just step by step instructions towards becoming a better leader. Rather, they focus on what leaders are, or what they are ought to do using the Jesuit approach. Their way of doing business actually directs people towards deeper questions that one would need to ask about themselves over their lifetime. The following four pillars are the principles that molded the Jesuits into becoming great leaders.
In the case of self awareness, it is stressed that a leader must understand his strengths, weaknesses, values, and worldview. Without a clear knowledge of what one can do, it would be a real challenge to adapt to the ever changing world. Research suggests that a person's IQ level holds lesser importance than being self aware in order to be a good leader. Jesuits had this knowledge centuries ago what today's researches found out after many years of study.
This is an essential ingredient especially with our current fast paced adaptive society. One should be confident enough to accept and evolve with the change that the world throws at them. Change and innovation are the two key factors behind this pillar. And how interesting is it that most of the industry leaders today are investing more and more capital into R&D in order to satisfy the consumers' wants and needs.
A leader must also engage others with a positive attitude that unlocks their true potential. People tend to perform well when they are being respected and when they feel safe. Nobody can be successful in a given culture where everyone is trying to back stab others. The best way to grow within an organization is to treat others just how one would want to be treated. The approach towards people must be supportive rather than abusive and discouraging. One needs to sacrifice their own ways to let others succeed. The only teams that perform well in any corporation are the ones in which team members know that they will have each other's back no matter how tough things get.
Energizing oneself and others with heroic ambitions and a passion for excellence is a must for a true leader. One must accept others' ambitions as much as their own. Motivating others when job well done and continuing to have a goal that somehow doesn't stop one from moving towards something bigger than oneself are the keys.
Fareed Raja is 2012 graduate of Spring Hill College. He is currently the director of marketing for Monarch General Transport in Mobile, Ala. Contact Fareed at www.linkedin.com/in/fareedraja.