Bernardo M. Villegas
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St. Josemaria on Virtues of Leaders

           A good number of those who have been declared saints or canonized in the Catholic Church demonstrated outstanding qualities of leaders.  A most recent example is St. Josemaria Escriva, Founder of Opus Dei.  Thanks to Dr. Raul Nidoy, a top official of the Parents for Education Foundation (PAREF), business executives can learn from St. Josemaria what are the virtues of leaders in modern times.  Dr. Nidoy extracted these virtues from the abundant writings of St. Josemaria, some of them best sellers that have sold millions of copies in numerous languages all over the world.  Let me summarize these leadership qualities below as can be gleaned from pronouncements of St. Josemaria:

          Understanding:  an effective help.  I think it is very good that you should try daily to increase the depth of your concern for those under you.  For to feel surrounded and protected by the affectionate understanding of the one in charge can be the effective help which is needed by the people you have to serve by means of your governance.

          Charity: do not terrorize. The good shepherd does not have to fill the sheep with fear.  Such behaviour befits bad rulers, and no one is very much surprised if they end up hated and isolated.  When you are dealing with problems, try not to exaggerate justice to the point of forgetting charity.

          Good manners of service.  Authority does not consist in the one above yelling at the one below, and the latter in turn at the one further down.  In such a way of behaving—a caricature of authority—apart from an evident lack of charity and of decent human standards, all that is achieved is that the one at the top becomes isolated form those who are governed, because he does not serve them.  Rather it could be said that he uses them!

          Humility to learn from others.  But…do you really think you know it all just because you have been placed in authority?  Listen carefully:  the good ruler knows that he can, that he should, learn from others.

          Study:  non-biased.  How sad it is to see some people in positions of authority speaking and making judgements lightly, without studying the matter in hand.  They make hard statements about persons or matters they know nothing about, even permitting certain prejudices which are the result of disloyalty!

          Know how to obey.  When you are told what to do, let no one know how to obey better than you; whether it is hot or cold, whether you feel keen or are tired, whether you are young or less so, it makes no difference.  Someone who “does not know how to obey” will never learn to command.

      Responsibility.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

          Not ignoring problems.  You must not solve problems, your own or those of otters, by ignoring them; this would be nothing short of laziness and comfort-seeking, which would open the door to the action of the devil.

          Fortitude to correct.  There is a great love of comfort, and at times a great irresponsibility, hidden behind the attitude of those in authority who flee from the sorrow of correcting, giving the excuse that they want to avoid the suffering of others.

          Anyone who has read one or more of the biographies of St. Josemaria can easily confirm that this “Saint Ordinary Life,” as St. John Paul the Great called him, practised what he preached.  As one of those who started the apostolate of Opus Dei in the Philippines in 1964, I can attest to the  sterling qualities of leadership that St. Josemaria lived in guiding the growth and expansion of the Work in these islands and in the rest of Asia until he went to heaven on June 26, 1975.  I only hope and pray that those of us who are children of his spirit will know how to pass on the lessons we learned from him to the future generations of the faithful of the Prelature.  For comments, my email address is