Spiritual Leadership In The Workplace (2)

Spiritual Leadership In The Workplace (2)

December 29, 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

This week I’m very happy to present you the second part of the article “Spiritual Leadership In The Workplace” written by Greg Waddell.

How To Relate To Others At A Spiritual Level?

Assuming that it is true that everyone has a spirit dimension, a soul, if you will, then what are the implications for leadership? How can a leader or manager relate to the spirit of their subordinates?

If we know that our associates have a spiritual side to their nature, then we should be able to address that dimension.

It is way beyond the scope of a blog post to develop a taxonomy of spirituality, but I would suggest the following as areas that address the spirituality of our fellow-workers:

1. Dignity. Spirituality implies that all people possess a basic dignity and that it is our moral obligation to uphold that dignity.
This means that a spiritual leader will not treat people as mere widgets in the organizational machine.

2. Freedom. Human beings as spirit beings possess a fundamental capacity for and need for freedom. Spiritual leaders will devote time and effort to creating a culture of organizational freedom and empowerment.

3. Aspiration. As spirit beings, every individual has aspirations for his or her future. These may be hidden, but a spiritual leader will look beyond an employee’s current job to discover that individual’s dream.

4. Purpose. Spirituality has to do with finding meaning in life beyond the mere goal of subsistence. It means that our lives are significant; they have a purpose. A spiritual leader will help his or her employees discover that purpose.

5. Creativity. Our greatest insights derive from the spirit because “the principles of creativity are buried as seeds within all life, but humans, in particular, possess a dynamic talent toward creativity, in the likeness of our Creator.”[2] A spiritual leader will seek to unleash this inner potential in others by creating an environment where it is safe to do so.

6. Values. Our spiritual nature is where we define and store our most core values, the ideas and beliefs that drive our behavior, sometimes even when we are unaware that this is what is happening. A spiritual leader doesn’t just talk about the company’s values, but also helps their employees to discover their own personal values. Hyler Bracey, president of Atlanta Consulting Group, said it this way,

“When you start talking about value and mission–and from whence those things come–you quickly get beyond the rational and logical to what lies deepest inside the individual.
Their deepest ideas come from the spirit.”[3]

Any time we address this deeper side of ourselves and our associates, we are engaging at the level of the spirit.
This ontological concept of “spirit” not only helps us relate to others, but it also helps us to relate to ourselves.

How To Relate To Ourselves At The Spiritual Level?

A spiritual understanding of human nature helps us to discern our own need for inner renewal. In The Paradox of Success, John O’Niel speaks of a dark side of leadership that he calls “the shadow.” He writes:

“The basic questions we encounter when we look deeply into the shadow are spiritual questions.”[4]

This inner shadow is like a time bomb set to explode at some time in our professional lives if we don’t uncover it and deal with it.
This involves deep reflection about ourselves and may even involve professional help.

One thing is certain, if we ignore this dark side of our spirit, it will eventually surface with the power to destroy our career.

During this process of spiritual reflection, leaders ask themselves:

* “What is the purpose of my life?
* “Why do I exist in the first place?”
* What is the meaning of my work?

The resolution of these issues–all of which are essentially spiritual–provides the creative potential that can rejuvenate our leadership capacity and provide direction for the entire organization.

[1] Chappell, T. (1996). The soul of a business: Managing for profit & the common good. New York: Bantam.

[2] Andrejev, V. (2004) Creativity & the meaning of ‘image’ from the perspective of the Orthodox icon. Theology Today 61(1), 53-66. Retrieved January 30, 2006, from eLibrary.

[3] Cited in Ottaway, R. N. (2003) Defining spirituality of work. International Journal of Value-Based Management 16(1), 23-35. Retrieved July 23, 2007, from ABI/Inform Global

[4] O’Neil, J. R. (1993). The paradox of success: When winning at work means losing at life. New York: G. P. Putman’s Sons, p. 177.

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Posted in Spiritual Leadership on Dec 29th, 2010, 10:08 by haukeborow