Once she has been constituted,
let the Abbess always bear in mind
what a burden she has undertaken
and to whom she will have to give an account of her stewardship,
and let her know that her duty is rather to profit her sisters
than to preside over them.
She must therefore be learned in the divine law,
that she may have a treasure of knowledge
from which to bring forth new things and old.
She must be chaste, sober and merciful.
Let her exalt mercy above judgment,
that she herself may obtain mercy.
She should hate vices;
she should love the sisterhood.
In administering correction
she should act prudently and not go to excess,
lest in seeking too eagerly to scrape off the rust
she break the vessel.
Let her keep her own frailty ever before her eyes
and remember that the bruised reed must not be broken.
By this we do not mean that she should allow vices to grow;
on the contrary, as we have already said,
she should eradicate them prudently and with charity,
in the way which may seem best in each case.
Let her study rather to be loved than to be feared.
Let her not be excitable and worried,
nor exacting and headstrong,
nor jealous and over-suspicious;
for then she is never at rest.
In her commands let her be prudent and considerate;
and whether the work which she enjoins
concerns God or the world,
let her be discreet and moderate,
bearing in mind the discretion of holy Jacob, who said,
"If I cause my flocks to be overdriven,
they will all die in one day."
Taking this, then, and other examples of discretion,
the mother of virtues,
let her so temper all things
that the strong may have something to strive after,
and the weak may not fall back in dismay.
And especially let her keep this Rule in all its details,
so that after a good ministry
she may hear from the Lord what the good servant heard
who gave the fellow-servants wheat in due season:
"Indeed, I tell you, he will set that one over all his goods" (Matt. 24:27).
In reading the rule of St Benedict, I have been struck by how compassion, mercy, and kindness are interwoven into the rules. There is always a "bottom line", the point at which the Rule solidifies to an immovable steeliness.
Humility and virtue, learning and prayer are prime requisites, guiding principles, for leadership in the monastery. It is useless to try and puck out one sentence, one phrase in the writing above; everything is needful, none is surplus.
Actually, I started this post from reading the two blog entries which I have copied below, related to leadership in schools. They have a lot in common with the Rule of St B.
h/t twitter: Alex Quigley
“Great organizations have leaders who:
@johntomsett: This much I know about resisting the misery of life in our schools...." http://wp.me/p2wufC-n3 ”. < The time of year for hope!
- Have mentors and coaches.
- Point out uncomfortable truths quickly, honestly, and compassionately.
- Live authentically. Fakers can’t be trusted. Trust is foundational to influence.
- Monitor and manage emotional states. Feelings impact performance.
- Expect results and don’t make excuses.
- Compare themselves with their potential, not others.
- Concentrate on people. Love is a leadership word.
- Clarify and narrow focus.
- Make others feel powerful. Employees in great organizations don’t say, “Things never change.”
- Love winning and compete aggressively.
- Talk and act humbly. Great leaders make others great. They’re never full of themselves.
- Engage with others without interfering.
- Ask “stupid” questions. They aren’t afraid to look stupid by not knowing.
- Prioritize culture building.
- Set direction but delegate decisions to those closest to the action.
- Hold themselves and others to high, agreed upon, standards.
- Have fun. Many leaders I know take themselves too seriously.
- Recognize, reward, praise, and honor others.
- Give back to the community. Generosity is normal, not rare, for leaders who build great organizations.
- Face forward by thinking, talking, and acting with the future in mind.
Great leaders always:
- Tell the truth.
- Demand the truth.
- Act in the best interest of their organization.
- Get results through others.
- Celebrate the success of others.
- Challenge the status quo.
- Press into the future while honoring the past.
- Receive criticism gracefully.
- Listen more than speak.
- Take responsibility.
- Show gratitude.
- Pursue clarity and specificity.
- Engage in self-reflection.
- Act in alignment with who they are.