How to be a Leader: Life Advice from Joan of Arc

Out of all of history’s famous figures, St. Joan of Arc is one of the most qualified to be a self-help guru. 

St. Joan of Arc was a teenaged peasant who, through faith and supernatural courage, became the youngest person to lead an army. She led France to victory at Orléans in the Hundred Years’ War and crowned King Charles VII. She died before she turned 18, but in that time, she had changed the course of her nation’s history and made a deep mark on the Church. Mark Twain called St. Joan “easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.” 

We may not face a royal power struggle in war-torn Europe, but Joan of Arc still has a lot to teach us. Alexandre Havard extracts many of these leadership lessons in his book, Coached by Joan of Arc. It draws on his expertise in forming virtuous leaders and inspiration from the life of the saint herself. This guide is a dialogue between the reader and Joan of Arc, and a must-read for people who crave mentorship on their lifelong mission to do God’s will, achieve greatness, and be holy.

St. Joan was a surprisingly modern woman, and she is for all of us: the men and women of today, living and working in the midst of the world. All of us have experienced, for example, some judgment because of our religion. Likewise, the maiden of Orléans was doubted again and again. First, her soldiers disobeyed her, then her king doubted her, and later her fellow Christians labeled her a heretic. Nonetheless, she stuck to her beliefs, even when her career and her life were on the line.

When it seems that everything in society is set against Christianity, Joan is a coach for all who strive to live elevated, virtuous, and courageous lives.

St. Joan was even courageous in defeat. After she was captured by the English, she was accused of heresy. She maintained her beliefs and died a Christian death, according to the witnesses of her execution. With St. Joan of Arc as an example, leadership in the face of accusations and threats against life and livelihood is easier to maintain. If we let St. Joan of Arc be our example, we can do anything God is calling us to do.