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Leadership

Heroic Leadership – lessons on how to be a good leader

Heroes extract gold from the opportunities at hand rather than waiting for golden opportunities to be handed to them. It’s small things that matter the most.

It was 2010. I was sitting in a quiet coffee shop in the main square in Gdańsk. The main purpose of the visit was to attend a workshop about how to be an effective leader in local communities. I was sipping coffee and reviewing my notes. At the time, almost everything was a revelation to me, especially the part on being heroic leader:

  • be a protagonist – a person who creates reality
  • it is so easy to be an antagonist
    • a person who is in the best scenario – a passive observer of life,
    • in the worst-case scenario – actively disturbing actions of the protagonist
  • be a leader – everyone can be a leader – even on a very small area of influence
  • do not wait for golden opportunity that are given you on a silver plate – make sure you extract the gold from casual situations
  • read more on “Heroic Leadership” by Chris Lowney.

I was just holding the recommended book and reading the first chapter. The book that changed my approach to many things. It also shaped my choices in my life, in both: professional and private domains.

The book that can help you be a good leader 📚

An author, Chris Lowney, was preparing for becoming a Jesuit priest. However, after some time, he decided to leave the religious order. For the next 17 years he worked in various branches of JP Morgan & Co. Primarily as a Senior Managing Director. He also served on the corporation board in different regions. In his book he describes the practices, which the Jesuits owe their success – the application of the four simple principles:

  • self-awareness,
  • ingenuity,
  • love
  • heroism

They developed the unique methods of forming true leaders. Jesuits have been developing and practising these methods, rules and procedures for almost 450 years. And yet they are still being discovered by mainstream business and management theory gurus today.

Society of Jesus, founded without the capital nor the business plan in 1540 has been one of the best performing corporations that ever existed. It has been successfully managing a network of missionary and educational institutions.
What are the secrets of Jesuit leadership?
Four principles stand out and are worth analysing:

  • understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, values ​​and worldview,
  • bold use of innovative methods in operation, to adapt to the surrounding and constantly changing world.
  • approach to others with a positive and loving adjustment,
  • motivating themselves and others by setting and achieving sky-high goals and ambitions.

The theory of Heroic Leadership is built upon those four pillars.

What is Heroic Leadership? 🤲

In general, it could be summarised to the following; in order to lead others, you need to become a leader for yourself first. You need to become self-aware, take responsibility for your actions and decisions. You become a leader to others, when you help them to be more self-aware, analyse their own decisions and lead their own lives. For me it was an interesting point of view. You do not lead followers, you lead leaders because everyone is a leader. Every one of us is called to be leading ourselves and others at the same time.

You do not lead followers, you lead leaders because everyone is a leader. Click To Tweet

How to be a good leader? 🙋🏻‍♂️

Good leader is self-aware: “Take responsibility for your life.”

  • You grow when you understand who you are and what values you follow, cultivate and stand by, what is your worldview
  • Good leaders are aware of their weaknesses, undeveloped talents and other trades of your character that may need you to work on them, prioritise and improve to be able to achieve sky-high goals,
  • You are aware of your strengths and talents, you cultivate stretching your possibilities, operating outside of your comfort zone (they just called it “Magis” – after Latin word meaning: greater, better, bigger, fuller).

Good leader cultivates ingenuity: “The whole world will become our house”.

  • You are comfortable with rapidly changing world around you (it was their principle 500 years ago!), and by this, you make others also feeling comfortable and more secure,
  • Diligently explore new ideas, solutions, cultures, you do not avoid what is “different” or “unknown” (do we call it diversity today??),
  • You rather try to pick out where is the value, even within the idea that is abstract at first glance,
  • You learn and adapt quickly (today we call it agile??) however, you know your non-negotiable values ​​that are like a compass, especially when about to decide on something big,
  • Cultivate “indifference” – that is, non-attachment to the opinions of others, comparing yourself with others, attaching yourself to once-made decision,
  • You challenge the status quo, thereby makes decisions quickly, which in turn leads to rapid implementation of innovation.
  • You “live with one foot raised” always ready to respond to emerging opportunities.

Good leader loves: “To act with greater love than fear.”

  • As a good leader, you face the world with a healthy self-confidence, treating yourself as a person gifted with talents, dignity, and potential,
  • Knowing how to love yourself, you love others, seeing in them the same attributes you see in yourself: talents, dignity and huge potential. You are self-aware, thereby you help others to become self-aware, and as a consequence to realise their talents, often hidden and undeveloped,
  • Everywhere around you, You create an environment based on mutual respect, bonds of loyalty, growth, love, help and readiness for assistance (do we call it “organisation culture” today??),
Knowing how to love yourself, you love others, seeing in them the same attributes you see in yourself: talents, dignity and huge potential. You are self-aware, thereby you help others to become self-aware. Click To Tweet

Good leader sparks heroism: “Eliciting great desires.”

  • You imagine the future that inspires you (do we call it a law of attraction of today?),
  • You are an animator and a protagonist – you influence the future and you are part of the process of shaping it, rather than passively looking at what is happening around,
  • Cultivate Magis discovering your sense of purpose, your individual calling, living your life to its full potential, transcending its limitations with heroism in everyday life,
  • You extract gold from the opportunities at hand rather than waiting for golden opportunities to be handed to you.
Heroes extract gold from the opportunities at hand rather than waiting for golden opportunities to be handed to them. Click To Tweet

Lesson learned during this coffee journey 🎓

  • Many theories, favourite quotes and practices may be older than we think,
  • It is super exciting to find a book that is ready for you, as you found it in the right time and right place on your life journey,
  • We cannot wait for big occasions to show the world our heroism, instead we should practice every day, with every decision, every thought, towards every person, even when “no one is looking”,
  • We are all leaders, even if we do not think about ourselves in this way,
Pancakes
2010, The best pancakes in Gdańsk , Poland 🇵🇱

I finished this day treating myself with the best looking pancakes I have probably ever eaten. I was super excited, as knew this book will bring me a lot of answers and generate lots of homework too. It happens when you are ready for a book and book is ready for you.

Cover photo: Neptune statue in Gdansk, Poland 🇵🇱

I wonder if you have similar books in your life? What was the book that have shaped your thinking, change your opinion on something, or maybe you just enjoyed reading it recently? If you enjoy the reading please consider re-twitting about it:


Thanks for reading!

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