Prof. Stefano D'Anna's Official Web Site

The Leadership Of The Future






I’ve dreamed of a revolution.

I’ve dreamed of a School which ‘remembers’

that the ‘dream’ is the most real thing that there is.

I’ve dreamed of a new generation of leaders,

driven by Ethics and Integrity,

capable to approach their role as a mission,

 a sacred duty. They will fix the world.


For a corporation, as for a country, the decisive difference between winning and losing,

 between progressing and decaying, between being free and being enslaved,

between staying alive and disappearing, is always made by one man

with a dream and a sense of greatness –

a true Leader.


The global economy stands out against the backdrop of an immense battlefield where every day, entire nations, and companies as large as huge regiments, confront each other in order to establish new economic frontiers, while modifying existing ones to their advantage. Only one victor emerges from these conflicts in the world business arena. The others, all the defeated, are chained to their war chariots and condemned to slavery. To survive, they have to adopt the habits of their new owner and learn his language. They have to serve him.

For a corporation, as for a country, in moments of great difficulties, the decisive difference between winning and losing, between progressing and decaying, between being free and being enslaved, between staying alive and disappearing, is made by one man. The difference is never made by two, one hundred or one hundred thousand. The difference is made by just one – a special man – an individual with a dream and a sense of greatness.

The crisis that the world is facing has little to do with economy and finance. The economical and financial problems are not the cause.  They could just be considered effects.  What we are really facing is a crisis of values, and a scarcity of healthy individuals, and ethical, impeccable leaders.


One Man Makes the Difference

Rivers of ink have flown and thousands of books, articles and essays have been written on leadership. We could think that there is not much new or original to say about this subject. Its crucial issues, like motivation, decision-making, and communication, have been the same from the time of the construction of the pyramids, or of the creation of, and government of the great empires of the ancient times. In reality the very essence of leadership still represents an enigma for modern scholars and social scientists, as it was for the ancient thinkers and philosophers. It is an enigma wrapped in a riddle. So, when I set out to write this article, I felt like a tightrope walker suspended between the nothingness of banality and the immensity of this mystery. To have an idea of the magnitude of this issue, it is enough to think that throughout the millennia of history, in the most crucial moments, in life-and-death situations, one man has always made the difference. The life of a corporation, the progress of a nation, the survival of an entire civilization depends on the existence of a true leader – a visionary man or woman, a pragmatic dreamer. Without these individuals, not only is the progress of any organization impossible, but so is their very existence.

How would the world be without George Washington’s desperate courage to march on Trenton, or without the luminous madness of Colombo who believed in a way to reach east by going west? Where would the world be without Steven Jobs, whose Apple Computer, Inc. this year is ranked as the number one corporation in the world – beating out Microsoft – even though a few years ago without its founder and leader, it was ready to file for bankruptcy? I wonder where Rome would have been without Scipio, and later, without Caesar. What would have become of the Catholic Church, the largest multinational in the world, without managers of the calibre of Agostino, Domenico or Francesco d’Assisi? And what would Turkey have become without Mustafa Kemal Ataturk? These sane, integral men, these visionary leaders – where do they come from?  How do they feel and think? Who is preparing them?


If we could find the way to “produce” these special individuals, to forge them at will in schools and universities, we could solve all the problems of our planet, from endemic poverty, to pollution, conflicts and crime. The capacity to intentionally create impeccable leaders, and pragmatic dreamers, would be the greatest scientific discovery of all time.

Regretably, thousands of books written on leadership and the research and studies carried out by the best universities of the world have not brought one single  atom of understanding on how to create the visionary leaders that our civilization desperately needs. Their obsolete recipes could not be trusted any more than the remedies to make hair grow – sold by bald quacks.

Apparently, the immense patrimony of educational methods, value systems, and philosophical principles of the ancient Schools of Being is lost forever. Their teachings and research into invulnerability and invincibility, would still be of paramount relevance to prepare leaders capable to face and win the challenges of the modern economies.

There was a need to create a solar laboratory, a forge, a universal hotbed where Dreamers can be formed one-by-one, and where visionaries and luminous utopians can prepare themselves to be the leaders of the Future.


With this mission in mind, I founded the FLW Program which immediately attracted hundreds of applications. The selection of the most suitable candidates took the entire summer. On October 4th, 2010 the first edition of this course on “visionary leadership” had its official start with the chosen 40 students. It was organized in Florence, in the footsteps of Leonardo and the other giants of the Italian Renaissance. True education is ‘remembering one’s own uniqueness – one’s ‘dream’, more than it is adding further notions and contents; for us, the idea is encoded in the Latin root word of education, ex duco, which means to lead out. At FLW, the students will learn many things, but many others they will have to unlearn. The leaders of the future must unlearn fear and doubts, which are the foes of dreaming, and learn that changing the world can happen only if we know who we are and how to elevate our vision through a new way of thinking.
Self-observation. An ordinary man thinks and feels negatively, pays no attention to himself and lets unpleasant emotions seep in and pollute his being. The selected students of this course will learn the great value of self-observation, and to be aware of one’s emotions. A leader observes his reactions and knows where they come from and why he reacts as he does. He has stopped any inner conflicts. His emotions are not his enemies; he is not governed by them.



Responsibility. In this course, future leaders will learn that personal responsibility cannot drop – even for one instant. He cannot let one atom of fear steal into his being. A leader, a man of integrity knows that one instant of dejection, the slightest uncertainty, hesitation or fear will create years of misfortune in his life, in his organization, and in all that depends on him.


Inner victory. Victory and a sense of safety must be a permanent state of the leader. In the classical Chinese traditions, in moments of great difficulty, when faced with a famine or an enemy invasion, the Chinese emperor, the son of heaven, would retreat to the Palace’s inner rooms to meet the doors of all things. Motionless, facing south, with his superhuman virtues, he ensured that the whole empire remained in accordance with the Decree of Heaven. He knew that the difficulties he himself faced revealed a decline in his integrity and that the battle would first be won inside.

When the dikes give way and the floods come, and the barbarian hordes and attacks rain down from every corner of the world, it means that the ‘portable paradise’ given to the leader has been lost, and only the regaining of his own integrity can reverse that catastrophe.

(from The school for Gods – Sinedie Publishing & University of Buckingham Press – 2009)