IKAF –International Kentenich Academy for Leaders

The international Kentenich Academy for Executive Managers formed in 2009 by a group of business people and leaders in the economy, who were conversant with Father Kentenich’s pedagogy through training in the Academy for Family Pedagogy and the training course on Kentenich pedagogy. Father Kentenich’s pedagogy is practical and applicable in personnel management according to the experiences of many leaders. An atmosphere of gratification, freedom and growth results where this pedagogy is put into practice. The IKAF was established from the common purpose of shaping the world through Father Kentenich’s charisma in accordance with the general principle:

Genuine divine love, which should burn within us, bestows
a new vision,
a new understanding,
a new solidarity
and new actions upon us. From the best within me
for the best within you
for a new world.

Impulse and Origin

For a long time now, there have been groups in Switzerland and around the Schoenstatt Centre in Memhölz, which have studied the fundamental educational texts of Father Kentenich and in which some began to read these with regard to personnel management and the culture of business life. Father Kentenich’s topicality, also in the area of economic issues, topics such as fatherliness, solidarity and the way of the shepherd generated enthusiasm. At the same time, there were repeated questions from outside the centre regarding whether or not there was also something from Kentenich for the economy and the following request arose: We want to obtain a deeper understanding of what we discovered for ourselves, apply it and make it available to others. During a training course on Kentenich pedagogy, a married couple was looking for a project and they discussed whether or not a project could not result from their mutual discussions about staff members entitled “Coaching of leaders by their wives”. Others were moved by the missionary breakthrough at the conference in 2014 and the realisation: Early Christianity used the logistics and the streets of the Roman Empire, the strongest power worldwide, to convey the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Today, the economy dictates the rhythm of the world with its logistics and streets. Could we not baptise the economy and use it as a global instrument, which sets the pace and carries weight? Could we, as leaders in the economy, be “missionaries for this century”?

Die Wirtschaftskrise 2008/2009 gab dann den endgültigen Impuls zur Gründung der Internationalen Kentenich-Akademie für Führungskräfte im Mai 2009.

A married couple sharing responsibility for leadership

While politicians and economists struggle for a “reconciliation between family and career”, family and career are specifically seen as being in competition in cases where one or both spouses hold leadership positions; occupational commitment takes time and strength away from the family, which are a part of the family and which the family lays claim to, while family is also very often experienced as something that slows down career advancement. The approach of the IKAF is not about the tedious struggle of achieving compatibility but about a paradigm shift: The married couple sees itself as sharing the task of leadership and cultivates an exchange as equals by both recognising the respective work in the job and / or family as a mutual task and apostolate.

Married couples as well as individuals, who participate in the IKAF, learn how this approach can be used to relieve tension between career and their circle of friends, honorary
commitments or community membership.

Method of work:Research alongside praxis and life

The academy develops through its actions. The method of work is geared towards Father Kentenich’s communicative concept: creative communication circuits, in which projects are developed and implemented, arise from a mutual fundamental conviction and deep emotional movement at the core as well as the individuals’ heartfelt concern for the matter. The Academy’s main focus lies in how Father Kentenich’s pedagogy can be implemented in practice – in managerial functions in businesses.
The IKAF’s method of work starts by observing real life situations: The successful experiences of the participants and their questions regarding everyday real life leadership tasks collected on the first evening, form the main issues for the programme at the conferences. These are complemented by reading Kentenich texts and brief inputs, which arise from questions on the
main issues. The work then consists of tracing the experiences back to the principles of Father Kentenich’s pedagogy and in doing so, applying them to a wider range than the practical individual example allows. Questions are discussed and work through together by analysing observations in life, experiences and Father Kentenich’s principles. From working life for working
life: based on this principle, inspirations and models gradually develop, which distinguish the style of leadership and working culture; at the same time, the objective is that actions increasingly become the expression of an attitude, from a new point of view, a new understanding, a new solidarity and new actions.

Specific projects

Specific projects results from perceiving opened doors in actual business situations and the personal charisma of the individuals and the married couples. Therefore, couples participating in the IKAF act as consultants on various subjects, e.g.: “Mutually shaping work and family life” in academies and at church events; others implement inspirations from the IKAF in conversations with business people and personnel managers, in coaching and business consultancy, in leading their own employees, at seminars for married couples working in the economy.

The Jour Fixe for leaders is a mutual project, in which in each case, leaders are invited to exchange information and offer mutual motivation on a specific subject.

The experiences resulting from the discussions at the conferences of the IKAF and the exchange of information are to be documented and in doing so, be made available to others.

Conveying the Blessed Mother into the economic world

The covenant of love grows into the business world, when leaders entrust crucial situations in their businesses to the Blessed Mother, pray for their employees and make contributions to the capital of grace. The Academy’s main focus lies in how Father Kentenich’s pedagogy can be implemented in practice – in managerial functions in businesses. Some have set up office shrines in their businesses, which crown the Blessed Mother to the queen of the company and knowingly attempt to give her the possibility of having an effect there, in particular from the shrine of the heart.

A covenant of culture in busines world.

A covenant culture in business means working in a covenant with the employees (and not without them or against them). Dealing with the employees in this manner – by means of fatherliness/motherliness, creating an atmosphere of growth, freedom, of personal interest and the willingness to completely vouch for the employees – creates a covenant culture.

In the future, the IKAF hopes for a stronger network with other initiatives in the economic area, the compilation of a Kentenich Reader on leadership styles and more in-depth insight into the vocation of being a business person and leader in the economy.