Leadership: The Being Component. Can the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Contribute to the Debate on Business Education?

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In recent years, scholars have increasingly dedicated their attention to analyse and reflect on the topic of leadership. However, the debate has often focused on the figure of the leader, as if being a leader were a self-sufficient function in itself, understood without finalities or independent of them. I would argue that leadership is not a position that can be assumed, but, rather, a relationship that is constructed. Similarly, the question of leaders has often given rise to a deconstruction of its components, without any insight as to how the reality is put together. Leadership cannot be understood solely from a technical or instrumental perspective. It is not a mere relational skill that simply requires developing competencies. The exercise of leadership always includes—explicitly or implicitly—a connection with values. Therefore, developing leadership is impossible without a personal process that develops the person’s capacity for perception, learning, interiorisation, explicit sense-making and constructing meaning. These issues are truly important at a time in which the debate on business education and its contribution is completely open, targeting the very core of business education’s reason for being. Though open, the debate can only become a truly dynamic discussion if there is a real dialogue between the different positions and traditions. For this reason, this paper proposes an anthropological and non-denominational reading of some of the fundamental meditations found in the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius which could be used as a heuristic in the debate regarding what business schools propose. This paper represents an initial step in this direction, exploring some of the potentialities of the Spiritual Exercises for business schools that do not claim any religious tradition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-809
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Business education
  • Leadership
  • Saint Ignatius
  • Spiritual exercises
  • Values and purpose


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