Vincentian leaders empower others. The real strength of a leader is the ability to elicit the strength of a group. This is the acid test of servant leadership. Therein lies a question for us. What have you done recently to empower someone with whom you work?
John C. Maxwell , international leadership expert, believes leadership is grounded by the integral role of people. “The study of leadership is the study of how men and women guide people through uncertainty, hardship, disruption, transformation, transition, recovery, new beginnings, and other significant challenges.” (1993, 93)
Maxwell further suggests that two of the most important jobs of a leader are empowering people by sharing knowledge and resources, and motivating people to aspire to greater heights. He writes:
“Empowering is giving your influence to others for the purpose of personal and organizational growth…It’s seeing people’s potential, sharing your resources with them, and showing them you believe in them completely.” (2002, 77)
How did Vincent illustrate this in his life?
Vincent energized and empowered others to support his vision for organized charity to the poor. He was driven by a strong desire—a burning fire—to serve others. Through mentorship and guidance he helped others such as Louise de Marillac, to find and pursue their mission in life.
Organized efforts and organizations such as The Daughters of Charity were the result. Vincent said, “If we are really called to carry the love of God far and wide, if we are to enflame the nations with this fire, if we have the vocation of setting the whole world on fire, if it is so, I say, if it so, …then how much I must myself burn with divine fire!”
Vincent was adept at helping his followers realize their potential. He empowered them by sharing his knowledge and resources, inspiring them through mission, and giving them opportunities to lead organizations he helped to create.
According to those who knew him, Vincent was humble, yet full of zeal. He was able to inspire and encourage others to join him in his persona mission, despite the challenges.
Over the course of many years, Vincent was able to inspire both the rich and poor to join him in his work. To the Ladies of Charity, he said, “Put off your jewels and fine clothing. Visit the poor and treat them openly and respectfully as persons of quality, avoiding all stiffness. To spend money is good, but we have not really begun to serve the poor until we visit them personally.”
Vincent often approached his work with pragmatism and nuanced thinking that empowered others to act in spite of the challenges they faced. He believed in the virtue of action and loved to use this succinct motto: TOTUM OPUS NOSTRUM IN OPERATIONE CONSISTIT (Action is our entire task).
How is the work you are doing right now connected to the fire in your heart?
What have you done recently to empower someone with whom you work?
How often do you ask others on your team about how you can be of help to them?
In what ways do you see your leadership first as service?
Maxwell, John C. Developing the Leader Within You. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson 1993
____________. Leadership 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know. Tennessee: Thomas Nelson 2002
The Vincentian Leadership Model draws on Vincent’s legacy as a remarkable leader whose life and leadership continues to inspire us today. The four orientations of the model—Mission, People, Task and Service—illuminate and deepen our understanding of contemporary leadership practices proposed by Maxwell and others.