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Teresa J. Rothausen

Timeless Wisdom--Wiser Leaders: An Inter- (and No-) Faith Update of Ignatius's Rules for Discernment

Wiser leadership requires careful discernment. Though many leaders are exposed to rational, linear decision-making models, however these models privilege intellectual wisdom over emotional intelligence, spiritual impact, moral values, and physical embodied wisdom. In addition, most of the decision making models taught in business schools are not always appropriate to more complex decisions, or decisions that will impact many others in and outside of organizations. These decisions usually involve implications for ethics, social justice, and environmental sustainability, and often the direction of leaders’ impact. Guidelines for spiritual discernment can be helpful for these types of issues. This article presents an interpretation of Ignatian Guidelines for Discernment for Wiser Leadership for use in Jesuit business education. The great need for resources to help guide discernment in the context of leader development is discussed, and an interpretation for use with people of any faith, and of no religious faith, is presented in four parts. In the first section, a brief history of Ignatius’s Rules for Discernment is provided for those unfamiliar with them. The second section defines and discusses what is meant by words like Soul, Source, and Spirit; this part is essential for understanding the Guidelines in inter-faith ways and ways that are powerful for atheists and agnostics. The third and fourth sections are interpretations of Ignatius’s Guidelines, parts 1 and 2 respectively, using the terms from the second section terms. Implications for organizational leadership and management, and business education, are discussed.