The Founder was not an innovator. His genius, however, lay in taking elements from various traditions - the Jesuits, the Christian Brothers, Fenelon, Rollin and Quintillian - and applying them in a specific way to the Congregation.
In reading the Founder's letters and the writings of his followers we can identify these elements:
"Politesse du Coeur" - a Josephite is called on to treat others with respect, recognising in them the presence of God.
"Douceur" - in his dealings with others a Josephite is called on to be gentle, mild and kindly.
"Esprit de Famille" - Josephite foundations are to be marked by a spirit of the ideal family, inspired by the closeness of the Trinity, being inclusive, welcoming, concerned and involved.
This can be summed up in number 129 of the Founder's "Guide des Professeurs":
"All of you who have devoted yourselves to the sacred work of education, love, love the children. But there is love and love. I am speaking here of real, deep and enlightened love; pastoral and paternal love; this love is everything and accomplishes everything. In a word, be like fathers to them, and that's not enough; be like mothers. You must love the children and make them feel that you love them; not only by avoiding, in your dealings with them, all hardness, unjust coldness and discouraging severity, but by caring tenderly for them and having a blessed and cordial affection for them; letting them see that you have devoted your life to them, that you are happy to be with them and will always be so. you must also identify with them, not only in work and study, but in everything else and in every detail of their school life. But I must add one thing of the greatest importance: To love the children and to identify with them, you must love one another. Be of one heart and mind: cor unum et anima una. Putting this into effect is as simple as it is pleasant. Out of this is born life, strength and the powerful fruitfulness of your work for souls, since in this is the union of souls one with another and with God in charity. If you know these things you will be happy, provided you put them into practice."