On several occasions, I have emphasized how the current state of global emergency has challenged traditional leadership models, which have often fallen short of expectations in dealing with the prolonged state of uncertainty we are experiencing. In conjunction with the beginning of the Ignatian year, I would therefore like to inspire reflection on what leadership capable of responding to the needs of our time might look like, starting with the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

By now, I think the only thing that is certain is that there is no certainty and humanity will have to learn to live with this situation permanently. The absence of certain references and the absence of timely solutions can provoke in the community a reaction of generalized immobilism, where fear, anxiety, and indecision suppress the will to act, characteristic of the human soul.

However, maintaining this will, even in a condition of uncertainty, is essential. According to the teachings of St. Ignatius, only discernment, that is, the ability to consciously choose and take effective and responsible action, can offer a concrete response to contingent and future problems.

In this sense, a leader must always know how to act thoughtfully in the face of volatile events. This is not an innate aptitude, but rather a skill that can be learned through training designed to fortify the mind, temper the character, and overcome uncertainties and fears. Thus, the determination to pursue a goal becomes unwavering, even in the face of adversity.

This is known as “Discerning Leadership.” Leadership that can be summarized well by the Ignatian quote that reads: “Act as if everything depends on you, knowing then that in reality everything depends on God.”

In other words: act in a measured way, with detachment from negative feelings – even under the most difficult circumstances – and do everything humanly possible, without ever sparing yourself.

Such leadership, I believe, has the energy to offer the world a new way of looking at things, where the unexpected becomes an opportunity for personal and professional growth, where difference becomes opportunity and not division, where collaboration becomes strength and not weakness, and where reflection becomes not inertia but a call to action.

To what extent are these values present in traditional leadership models? Possibly, still too little. But I have faith in the future, because I see many leaders with these characteristics dedicating themselves to imparting their experience to the younger generation. In so doing, they stimulate and encourage them by promoting their creativity, originality, and willingness to innovate and experiment.

The hope is that today’s youth, in turn, will pass on these values to their fellow human, and to the generations that follow, teaching them to invest in the most precious resource that man has at his disposal: himself.

View PDF