Leadership is everyones vocation

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                                                                                               FEATURES                                                                                       TUESDAY, JANUARY 1,2008                    17

                                                                                  Leadership is everyone’s vocation


                                                                                                                                                On Nov 29, 2007, some top executives of TNK-BP (, the biggest foreign
                                                       PHOTO COURTESY OF ECLD                                                                    investment firm in Russia, attended a Virtuous Leadership seminar at the Hotel Balchug in
   “Leadership is character, it is not reserved to the elite. It is the                                                                         Moscow. From left to right: Yankovoy Evgeny, Oil & Gas Lead Specialist, International Affairs;
                                                                                         Derevleva Marina, HR Director of                       Mozdakov Yaroslav, Oil & Gas Manager, International Affairs; Tanaschuk Sergey, Oil & Gas
    vocation not of the few but of the many,” says ECLD founder                                MTS (mobile phone)
                          Alexandre Havard.                                                                                                                                  Senior Manager, International Affairs.

A close encounter
                                                                                                                      By Leo R. Maliksi       said. And in the words of St. Josemaria,          greatest political, intellectual and
                                                                                                                       CONTRIBUTING WRITER
                                                                                                                                              another great man of the 20th century,            religious leaders of modern times, and
                                                                                                                                              “It means greatness of spirit, a largeness        from his personal experience to show
                                                                                                                                              of heart wherein many can find refuge.”           that being a leader is less about leading
 with goodness                                                                    WHOEVER WOULD BE GREAT AMONG YOU
                                                                                  MUST BE YOUR SERVANT.
                                                                                                                           - MATTHEW 20:26
                                                                                                                                                  Humility according to the German
                                                                                                                                              philosopher Josef Pieper, “is not
                                                                                                                                              primarily an attitude that pertains to
                                                                                                                                                                                                a nation, rising to the top of one’s
                                                                                                                                                                                                profession, or leading armies into battle.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    “Leadership is character,” he said. “It
                                                                                                                                              the relationship of man to man: it is the         is not reserved to the elite. It is the
                                                  BY ALEXANDRE HAVARD                 They were all there heads of state,                     attitude of man before the face of God.”          vocation not of the few but of the
                                                      REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION   European royalty, Muslim Imams,                             Humility is a religious virtue that makes         many.”
                                                                                  Hindu Brahmas, Buddhist monks,                              man acknowledge his being a creature                  “And character is forged not by
    A random incident, as beautiful as it was unexpected,                         Jewish rabbis, Christian pastors, and                       of the Supreme Being. The thought that            codes of ethical conduct, but rather
comes to mind whenever I contemplate the greatness of the                         Catholic nuns. They were attending the                      God is everything and he is nothing               through the cultivation of the natural
human heart, which is the sine qua non of leadership.                             funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II, their                    does not upset him.                               and supernatural virtues passed down
    It occurred on a bus journey from St. Petersburg to                           presence a testimony to this man’s                              This is ultimately the wellspring of          through classical Antiquity and the
Helsinki on a bitterly cold winter’s morning in 1992, not                         virtue. No other person in history can                      John Paul II’s power to draw millions in          Judeo-Christian tradition.”
long after the fall of Communism. This was a time of                              claim to have had such a big number of                      his lifetime and at his death.                        The Virtuous Leadership program
plunging production, skyrocketing inflation, and rampant                          political and religious leaders present at                      Now, the many other virtues of this           shows that leadership and virtue are
unemployment throughout the former Soviet Union. Elderly                          the celebration of his passing away.                        priest from Poland and of many other              not only compatible; they actually mean
Russians found themselves in especially dire straits as                           Celebration is the right word because                       world leaders who have made a                     the same thing. One’s growth as a
inflation wiped out their already inadequate pensions. Many                       their being there confirmed the impact                      difference in our time form the core of           leader runs parallel to one’s growth in
were reduced to collecting discarded bottles from waste bins                      this Catholic pope left in their lives and                  Havard’s Leadership Seminars. “The                virtue.
for the deposit money. It was their only way to survive.                          on the world.                                               content of our seminars are founded on                In the words of the late Peter
    As the Finland-bound bus sped through Russia, I was                               What was the source of John Paul                        the principle that leadership is a                Drucker: “It is character through which
struck by the contrast between the pristine winter                                II’s charisma? It was his magnanimity                       question of character, that character is          leadership is exercised.” Warren G.
landscape hurtling past my window and the less than                               and humility virtues that according to                      virtue in action, and that every human            Bennis, an American scholar,
edifying moral atmosphere on board.                                               Alexandre Havard, the founder of the                        being is capable of acquiring virtue and          organizational consultant, writer, and a
    The passenger in front of me was sloshed. He appeared                         European Center for Virtuous                                growing in virtue.”                               pioneer in contemporary leadership
to be comatose. The passenger to my right thrust his hand                         Leadership (, are                           Havard, whose parents immigrated              studies, said: “Leadership is a metaphor
into his pocket and came up with a crumpled pack of                               the qualities of a true leader.                             to France from the Soviet Union, draws            for centeredness, congruity, and balance
cigarettes. He regaled me with stories of a lost weekend of                           “Magnanimity is not madness,” he                        from the lives of the some of the                 in one’s life.”
carousing, as he chafed at not being able to light up.
    Much to his relief, our bus put in for a rest stop in front
of the railway station at Vyborg, the last Russian city before
the Finnish frontier. With the sun shining brightly on newly
fallen snow, I bundled up against the cold and set out to
explore the area around the station.
                                                                                             Aretology is the science of virtue
    Presently, I came upon an old lady rummaging through                                                     BY ALEXANDRE HAVARD              theology speaks. Plato defined the main           selling advocate of “principle-centered”
a large pile of refuse to find something she could use or sell                                  EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK "VIRTUOUS LEADERSHIP"   human virtues as prudence, justice,               leadership, Stephen R. Covey (USA,
or cash-in for the deposit. I reached into my pocket and                                                                                      courage, and self-control, though the             1935-).
came up with my few remaining rubles: “Babushka, please                               Aretology the science of virtue                         poet Pindar and the playwright                        Josef Pieper builds on the
take these.” She looked me straight in the eye and smiled                         was founded by the classical Greek                          Aeschylus had already spoken of them.             foundations laid by Aristotle and Plato,
radiantly, and I could see that she was younger than she                          philosophers and enriched by its                            Ambrose of Milan (4th century A.D.)               Augustine and Aquinas.
appeared. Anxious not to miss the bus, I made my way                              encounter with Judeo-Christian thought                      called them the cardinal virtues, because             Josemaria Escriva deals with human
quickly back to the station.                                                      and spirituality. The name derives from                     they are the cardines, “hinges,” on               virtues from the practical point of view
    Just as I was stepping aboard, I heard a voice behind me.                     arete, the Greek word for virtue.                           which all other human virtues depend.             of an experienced pastor of souls.
I wheeled around. It was the old lady trundling towards me                            Aretology comprises two kinds of                            Greek philosophers, above all Plato               Peter Drucker is the prophet of
as fast as she could, a beaming smile on her face and a                           virtues: intellectual virtues related to                    and Aristotle, wrote about human                  management par excellence. The whole
bouquet of flowers in her outstretched hand. I accepted it.                       human knowledge and ethical virtues                         virtues as did the Jews and the Romans,           of his teaching (conveyed in 31 books) is
She left without saying a word.                                                   related to human behavior. Intellectual                     Cicero and Seneca the best known,                 permeated with deep aretological
    We crossed the border and I lay back, closed my eyes,                         virtues help us grasp reality, while                        followed by Christian writers, especially         considerations. Drucker once said, “All
and pictured her buying the flowers with money she so                             ethical virtues help us act in accordance                   Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.                     of those who have written about me
desperately needed for herself and no certainty of finding                        with human nature. Prudence has both                            In modern times, a number of well-            have portrayed me as an author of
me. I marveled at her absolute selflessness, her                                  qualities. It is both an intellectual virtue,               known writers have given sustained                business         management          and
magnanimity of heart. I was overcome with joy, with a deep                        inasmuch as it involves knowledge, and                      attention to this topic. Among the most           administration, which I am not.” That’s
love for life, with a desire to convert, to purify my heart, to                   an ethical virtue, inasmuch as that                         influential are the philosopher Josef             right; he was a purveyor of aretology.
be better. It is by no means unusual that a close encounter                       knowledge is directed towards decision                      Pieper (Germany, 1904-1997), the priest               Stephen Covey writes about virtues
with goodness makes the soul take flight, as it had sprouted                      and action.                                                 and founder of the Roman Catholic lay             from an essentially psychological point
wings. In my book and in the seminars on Virtuous                                     Ethical virtues are also called human                   organization Opus Dei, St. Josemaria              of view. His strength is his ability to
Leadership that I give to my audiences of widely different                        virtues or natural virtues, to distinguish                  Escriva (Spain/Italy, 1902-1975),                 demonstrate with attractive and telling
cultures and languages and religions, I strive to impart some                     them from the divine or supernatural                        management guru Peter Drucker                     anecdotes the relation between virtue
of what the old lady of Vyborg imparted to me.                                    virtues of which Christian moral                            (Austria/USA, 1909-2005), and the best-           and personal effectiveness.

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