The Importance of Human Dignity in Forming Leaders

The partnership between World Youth Alliance and Universitas Foundation Inc. began back in 2005 during the World Youth Day in Cologne where the Founder of Universitas, Atty. Oliver Tuazon first met the Asia-Pacific Regional Director of WYA who was setting up the office in the Philippines. In the meeting, their exchange about their respective organizations’ mission and vision eventually led to a partnership as they both liked the idea of helping each other in achieving the goals of both organizations. The Founder of Universitas also had the opportunity to meet WYA Founder Anna Halpine in Cologne and once again during her visit in the Philippines in a gathering among friends.

Both organizations decided to establish this partnership mainly because of their common objective which is to promote human dignity, and the protection of life, marriage and family. In World Youth Alliance, these principles are promoted in all aspects of life whilst Universitas is through the formation of principled leaders.

My desire to volunteer for these kinds of organizations developed back when I was in highschool when I became a counselor for an all girls leadership camp called Pathfinder. As a first time counselor, I always asked the question, “How will the campers become better leaders after this camp if the counselors are the one leading and facilitating the activities for them?” But after a week of spending time and developing a bond with them, it made me realize that my responsibility as a counselor  is so much more than facilitating the activities, teaching them leadership skills, and having the position or title of a counselor. Rather, it is showing them why it’s worth taking on this responsibility of being in the service of others for their good and why everyone in camp is worthy of it. At the end of the camp, some campers expressed to me and other counselors that one day, they want to become a counselor just like us. This is precisely where I found the motivation to continue finding the opportunity to become an even better leader for more people to do the same.

From this experience, I learned that example is a very important responsibility for leaders to carry and a crucial learning factor for any person to become a better person. This is why it is most important now to form the leaders of society emphasizing on being examples in respecting the dignity of the human person, specifically the people they lead. From this, these people will eventually learn their worth and probably become leaders in the future who will do the same.

Now, in Universitas, we believe that the three main characteristics of a principled leader is to be competent, with a stable moral character and well-formed conscience. But as I have mentioned, these qualities need to be grounded and united with the understanding of the dignity of the human person to become more effective leaders. In order to better understand this concept, I would like to explain the important role of dignity in each of the three characteristics of a principled leader:

First, we become competent leaders by understanding that whatever we do may promote or violate our human dignity. To be competent means that when we serve others, we are more conscious of doing things excellently with our knowledge, thoughts and actions because we know that this represents how we make use of our freedom and that this is proper to living as a person of dignity.

Second, to become a leader with a stable moral character. One of my favorite saints, St. Josemaria Escriva, once said, “You will never be a leader if you see others only as stepping-stones to get ahead”. In here, we see the role of human dignity in guiding our thoughts and actions. It sets the standard of what is good for the human person. Anyone can develop a stable moral character by being consistent in doing good through what is good while being firm with our reason for doing good.

Lastly, to become a leader with a well-formed conscience. Striving to become a good leader is no exception from any form of struggle. As human beings, we continue to make our own mistakes every single day but this doesn’t stop us from choosing and doing what is good as we go on with life because it is by anchoring our thoughts and actions towards the quality of our inalienable dignity that we find hope in ourselves that we can be better and make better choices next time. As leaders, this realization will always matter everyday as we have a responsibility not only to decide for ourselves but for the good of another human person with the same dignity.

To become a leader is no easy task because it entails a big responsibility not only because of the quantity of people you lead or manage but because each individual has an intrinsic dignity who is need of realizing that. But despite the challenge, we ourselves who freely go through this difficulty to become competent and have a stable moral character and well formed conscience embodies the potential of a person with dignity can do and inspire others to be the same.

Written by Mary Grace Cruz, a WYA Headquarters’ intern from the Philippines.