Towards a Contemporary Understanding of the Leadership Qualities of Ignatius of Loyola Evident in His Writings: A Content Analysis of the Primary Source Letters
David C. Burkitt
Ignatius Loyola was a spiritual leader from the European Renaissance. His distinct leadership style and his own profound spirituality gave birth to the Society of Jesus amidst the turmoil of the political, scientific, cultural, and spiritual era of the time. Ignatius' letters, written from the time of his spiritual conversion up to his death, number approximately 6,000. They were written to his followers and to other dignitaries during his time; furthermore, they are significant to his success as a leader, intended to counsel, discipline, and influence members of the Society of Jesus in order to propagate a higher understanding of spirituality. The goal of this content analysis is to connect a recognized 16th century spiritual leader's philosophy of spiritual leadership to the evolution of spiritual leadership theory today. This research seeks to broaden the scope of spiritual leadership through the scientific analysis of the text of Ignatius letters. In addition, this research has focused on the fundamentals of Ignatius Loyola's deep spiritual conversion, spirituality, and ability to accomplish many goals as swiftly as possible. Research on spiritual leadership often has looked at the impact of spiritual leaders upon their followers, both through the test of time as well as by content analysis methods. It has argued that elements of contemporary spiritual leadership theory are present in Ignatius' spiritual leadership qualities displayed in his letters. In the hope of contributing to the models of spiritual leadership employed today, Ignatian spirituality and leadership, grounded in a steadfast and efficient manner, may be applicable to address current organizational issues.
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