Virtuous Leadership in China

In the end of May Alexandre Havard visited China for the first time in order to train trainers of the Chinese branch of the Virtuous Leadership Institute. In Shanghai he directed a workshop for Social Enterprises, NGOs and university student leaders and presented at the AmCham. In Beijing he also met with experts interested in virtuous leadership from various circles including e-learning, social science, youth development foundation and Development Research Center.

Virtuous Leadership at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University

Alex Havard presented at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University, which is one of Russia’s most prestigious universities and regularly ranked on the first place in business press rating. This was the first time he presented at a Technical University.

Many Bauman University’s graduates are world-renowned: Sergei Korolev for the first satellite in the space and first man and woman in the space, Andrey Tupolev for the world first supersonic passenger plane, Nikolay Dollezhal for the world first civil nuclear plant, Nikolay Zhukovsky for the foundation of aerodynamics and hydrodynamics sciences, Pavel Sukhoi for the foundation of Sukhoi Aerospace Design Bureau.

Bauman University is famous for its educational system called “Russian method” which unify a broad and intensive theoretical preparation with a deep practical education closely connected with industries. Presented on Universal Exposition in 1873 in Wien and in 1876 on Universal Exposition in Philadelphia this method won a gold prize. The President of MIT professor John Daniel Runkle wrote that Russian method will be undoubtedly applied as a principal educational system in MIT and all other American technical universities.

Alex Havard spend 3 hours with a nice group of some 100 students engineers and future missiles constructors who have a true passion for Virtuous Leadership, not less than students in business and management.

Virtuous Leadership at IESE Business School, Barcelona

For the first time Alexander Havard directed a Virtuous Leadership seminar in Spanish.

This event directed to University students was organized by the Railles Cultural Center (Barcelona) in the premises of IESE Business School on Feb 11, 2003.







Virtuous Leadership and Created for Greatness are published in Spanish under the titles Perfil del Lider (Palabra Ediciones, 2011) and La Dieta Interior (Rialp, 2012)


Alexandre Havard at Harvard University

In October 2012 I gave 2 lectures at the Harvard Law School and the Harvard Business School respectively. It is well known that many of the students at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law are preparing to be the future leaders of the United States and their respective home countries. At Harvard I focused on the pitfalls of rule-based Ethics and mentioned the desperate need for virtue-based ethics. I know that I was in the right place at the right time! In 1978, Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave his controversial Harvard Commencement address on a topic entitled “The Exhausted West,” in which he chastised the arrogance and smugness of Western materialistic culture, and called for the active defense of not so much human rights as human obligations. His speech profoundly disturbed the Harvard community at that time, as they had expected a diatribe against Soviet-era totalitarianism, His message was rejected. The failures of Western corporations and governments in our time are also failures of character and virtue. The popular response to date has been a rush to define, promote and enforce rules of ethics. This is a legalistic, coldly analytical response. But Solzhenitsyn, again in his Harvard Commencement address said, “I have spent all my life under a Communist regime and I will tell you that a society without any objective legal scale is a terrible one indeed. But a society with no other scale but the legal one is also less than worthy of man. A society based on the letter of the law and never reaching any higher fails to take advantage of the full range of human possibilities. The letter of the law is too cold and formal to have a beneficial influence on society. Whenever the tissue of life is woven of legalistic relationships, this creates an atmosphere of spiritual mediocrity that paralyzes man’s noblest impulses.” Solzhenitsyn predicted that “it will be simply impossible to bear up to the trials of this threatening century with nothing but the supports of a legalistic structure.” The economic collapse of 2008 is just one crisis that bears witness to the accuracy of his prophecy. Harvard University is charged today with preparing a new generation to repair the breach, but to do so, this new generation must be equipped with something of much greater substance than a rehashed presentation of ethical rules and constructs.  If they are not so equipped, they are bound to experience frustration, failure and exhaustion even deeper than that which their predecessors experienced. Today’s Harvard University is mired in the quicksand of an ethical crisis that it created for itself. It is a crisis that trumpets a crying need for virtuous leadership, magnanimity and humility – and demonstrates the need for character building as the essential prerequisite to ethics training. A telling example of this crisis is Harvard’s recent announcement that it is investigating allegations of cheating that are unprecedented in anyone’s living memory. The cheating scandal being investigated is ironic to the point of being astonishing, involving fully half of the 279 students who took a course last Spring called “Introduction to Congress.”

Virtuous Leadership in Riga, Latvia, March 2012

Riga, March 6, 2012.
Meeting with Alex Havard.

Virtuous Leadership in Kazan

Virtuous Leadership Seminar in Kazan, Russia, for the Top Management of Tatenergo, March 2012.

Virtuous Leadership at Franciscan University of Steubenville

Ignoring the podium on the small stage, Alexandre Havard walked to the front of the room and stood inches from the front row. He paused, looking at the students gathered before him. “Nobody can say, ‘Leadership is not for me,'” he said. “Leadership is not a technique; it is a real life ideal. It’s about becoming who we are: Real human beings.” Havard, founder of the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute (HVLI) and an international speaker and author, discussed real leadership in his speech, “Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence,” at Steubenville University, Wednesday, October 12. Havard, a former lawyer who currently works and teaches in Moscow, Russia, dedicates his life to teaching others about the virtues of true leadership and to answering the question: What does it mean to truly be a human being? Havard explained that leadership is not a quality that only certain people are born with; it is something each and every person can develop. At the heart of real leadership, he said, is not personality, but personal character, which can be built by nourishing specific virtues. “If you ask people what leadership is about, you’ll find that each of us can have his own definition of leadership,” Havard said. “If you are materialistically minded, for you leadership can just be manipulation of people, how to direct people, or how to achieve a goal. What it really is, is a question of character. It has to do with virtues.” Alex Stubenville Univ. 2011Havard believes that the cardinal virtues—prudence, courage, temperance, and justice—are necessary, but not enough to make a good leader.  These, he argued, make rather a “good person”—one who can make right decisions, control his emotions, interact with human beings, and implement decisions. “None of those four virtues are in fact specific leadership virtues,” Havard explained. “They are the virtues of good people. They are important in the life of a leader, but they are important in the life of every human being.” There are two very specific virtues, Havard went on to explain, that every leader must have: magnanimity and humility. Magnanimity, a concept formulated by Aristotle and perfected by St. Thomas Aquinas, emboldens men and women to believe they are worthy of doing great things. To be a real leader, Havard said, one must first have this very specific kind of confidence. “Magnanimity is awareness of the fact that you’re called to do great things in life,” Havard declared passionately. “A leader is a person who first of all has a big vision of who he is—an awareness of his own dignity and greatness. Magnanimity is the virtue of human hope.” Here, Havard said, many Christians hesitate, afraid of becoming too proud or self-reliant. That’s why Havard argued that humility is also an essential ingredient in creating the ideal leader. Though they seem contradictory, he explained, magnanimity and humility are in perfect harmony—leaders must first understand their talents, and then realize that their gifts are from God. “If you think that you have great talents and great gifts, but don’t understand that these things have been given to you by God, you are not magnanimous—you are proud,” Havard said. “But if you understand that your good gifts and talents have been given by God, you will investigate more about them, and you are going to multiply them. And you will be filled with gratitude to God.” Havard told the captivated students before him that discovering one’s talents takes time. He advised them to try as many new things as possible, find good friends, and most of all, be confident. “A lot of people are afraid of mistakes,” Havard said. “Magnanimity tells us, don’t be afraid of mistakes! Do a lot of things, and find out what your talent is.” A true leader, Havard said in closing, is one who is not afraid of setbacks or failure, but who remains true to character and virtue and teaches others to do the same. Do this, Havard declared, and all other successes inevitably follow. “At the end of the day, [a true leader can say] even if we collapse as an organization, I did not collapse, and you did not collapse,” Havard exclaimed, “because in this process—of fighting, of struggling, of becoming great—we have achieved our human goals, which are self-transformation, growth, virtue, initiative, creativity, passion. And if, at the end of the day, we lose the battle, I will be happy—not because we lose, but because, you and I, we have become better. We have achieved greatness together.”

Virtuous Leadership at the US Army War College (Carlisle, PA)

Watch HERE the VIDEO on YouTube

On October 11, 2011 Alexandre Havard lectured to 425 senior military officers at the US Army War College (Carlisle, PA)

The military has a long and distinguished reputation for character formation and leadership training. What they specifically appreciated from Alex’s lecture was the distinction he made between virtue and values. Virtues come from within. They are habits of the heart, mind and will that give us strength of character and power for action. Values are outside of ourselves – things like family, love of country, duty, and service to our fellow man. These are great ideals, but they do not give us the strength and power to achieve them like the human virtues of self-control, courage, justice, prudence, and humility give us. Finally, they loved Alex’s emphasis on Magnanimity and Humility as the “virtues specific to leaders,” which Alex summed up as greatness and service. Alex told them you can’t have true humility without magnanimity and true magnanimity without humility. The two are tied together. The lose of understanding today about the true meaning of magnanimity leads to a deficient understanding about authentic humility. These military officers understand what it means to live for something greater than yourself, and that real leadership is not self serving but requires great sacrifice and understanding of the dignity of those you lead.  Alex’s illustrations and clarification of the two virtues of magnanimity and humility really connected with them. To give words and definition to what is deep within your heart can be a transformational moment for a person.
Lee Thomas