Georgetown’s Jesuit Values Guide the Institute for Transformational Leadership

Early in the pandemic, Mission in Motion reflected on popular articles that examined the qualities of Jesuit education that contribute to the formation of ethical and reflective leaders working in every sector of society.  The Jesuit approach to education tends to produce effective leaders because of the framework’s embrace of self-awareness, ingenuity, love, and heroism, according to Jesuit leadership expert Chris Lowney. Jesuit educated leaders are often considered “servant leaders,” or those who work against the traditional model of power accumulation and focus instead on the development and wellness of the people and communities in which they exercise leadership.  There has been a growing discussion about this relationship between leadership and Jesuit spirituality and pedagogy, leading to global efforts like the Jesuits’ recently created Program for Discerning Leadership.

This week Mission in Motion calls attention to the relationship between Jesuit values and leadership development with a special focus on Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership.

This week we call attention to the work of Georgetown University’s Institute for Transformational Leadership (ITL), a first-of-its-kind institute that develops and sustains worldwide communities of leaders and coaches. Housed at the School of Continuing Studies, ITL’s approach to this work is anchored in the values of the Spirit of Georgetown and demonstrates Jesuit leadership principles in action.

ITL offers a range of certificates, programs, workshops, and special events dedicated to awakening, engaging, and supporting the leadership required in today’s world to create a more sustainable and compassionate future. A quick glance at ITL programs illustrates how clearly mission and values guide the Institute. With programs in Facilitation; Health & Wellness Coaching; Leadership Coaching; Organizational Consulting & Change Leadership; and Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, ITL is providing students with experiential learning opportunities geared toward helping leaders understand the context of a complex and challenged world.

The Executive Certificate in Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion is a prime example of how ITL is helping address issues of social justice through its transformative education. A recent SCS web story, “Program Promotes Equity and Belonging in the Workplace,” captures the spirit of the program and the way that it moves beyond a narrow conception of competency in DEI. More than preparing leaders to offer “stand-alone solutions” to the persisting challenges of realizing inclusion in workplaces, the program attends to both the larger structural dynamics impacting DEI as well as the self-knowledge needed to lead in this area. Program instructor Maria Kelts describes the approach in this way:

“The course is experiential in nature and is built on the foundation of understanding oneself through the identities one holds and acknowledging oneself as a change agent. Knowing how you walk through the world allows you to more effectively analyze, diagnose, and address DEI issues in the workplace and beyond.”

Aligned with a Jesuit stance on leadership development, ITL makes interior development and the contribution of spirituality a focus of its programming. This commitment to the interior lives of leaders, which is one of many leadership principles that animate ITL’s approach, aligns well with the Educating the Whole Person value at the heart of the Spirit of Georgetown. By including interiority in the curriculum, ITL reinforces a powerful lesson that generous doing or action in the world ultimately flows from a generous sense of self or being. In the midst of increased social and political polarization, a focus on the inner work of social transformation is critical.

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