Effective leadership and management require values, which were once considered as being “too soft” for effective management (Bolman and Deal, 2003). Management by values is an idea that is fast becoming the principal driver in re-engineering well-being culture in the workplace. At the same time, spirituality has been embraced as one of the important features for effective leadership and management (Nullens, 2013). Transcend spirituality in leadership is considered to be the residue for ethic in leadership and management. Spirituality is linked to leadership by virtue of application of the values of love, care, and concern among others. Spirituality for leadership is manifested through interaction and relationship with all the employees in the organization regardless of rank and its major importance is improved employee productivity.
Spirituality for leadership exists without pressuring any individual in the organization and for leadership ethics, spirituality expresses itself through embodiment of values that include integrity and demonstration of spiritually oriented behaviours that include concern and care (Bolman and Deal, 2003). Spirituality for leadership is different from spirituality in religion as an individual may embody many of the values and practises that are associated with spirituality for example demonstration of care and respect for others, but not consider him/her self as being a spiritual person. This means for an individual to demonstrate spirituality, he/she requires ethical behaviour, but spirituality is not required to demonstrate ethical values.
For leaders who observe ethical practises, spirituality is the core of their inner and social lives. Spirituality informs the relationship that a leader accord for public and private spheres at intersects where the two worlds collide (Sanders, Hopkins and Geroy, 2004). With regard to ethical decision making by a leader, spirituality is considered to be an authoritative source that has an impact on attitudes, lifestyles, and behaviours of many people especially in business, education, health, and science organization (Kotter, 1999). However, as argued by Conger (1994), usually the calls for spirituality fail to address the larger ethical questions on equity, justice, and truth-telling which are raised on public life.
Spirituality in leadership takes a rather traditional approach where the values and behaviour used to determine leadership effectiveness are different from spiritual faith or intention. According to Hyatt (2005), the marks for a successful leader by some experts are expected to be intelligence, strategy, and even ruthlessness, but research on spiritual leadership has established that these are not the elements defining leadership. Rather, the spiritual values that are attributed to leadership effectiveness are honesty, integrity, and humility. For example, personal integrity has been found to be the most essential thing for engendering the respect and trust of the other employees. The respect and trust of the other employee is owned through the practice of treating others with love and compassion which is manifested through respect, fairness, caring, attentive listening, and appreciation of other people’s contribution in the organization, which is also in line with spiritual teachings (Sanders et al., 2004).
Leaders who practise spirituality in the workplace are considered to be visionary, inspirational, and able to move beyond limitations that might exist inside and outside the organization. As a result, spirituality in leadership is considered to have elements of relationship through the description of inspiration (Kinicki and Kreitner, 2006). According to Kotter (1999), this type of leadership can be linked to spiritual leadership in the sense that they both have the capability to increase the level of morality and motivation of others as to achieve performance that exceeds expectations.
As stated by Hyatt (2005), modern western theories of ethics hold the view that ethical decisions can be made by either following abstract morality principles (deontology) or by seeking to make good performance as per the metrics of real-world context (consequentialism). Under spiritual leadership, the self is given prominence through the argument that, spirituality can be either sourced from religion or from the self. However, for practise of spirituality in leadership, it takes personal level commitment therefore; the theory of deontology would be argued to be key in the adoption and practise of spirituality in leadership. For example, a born again Christian might not practise spiritual leadership in the workplace, but an ethicists can choose to practise the same. This has leader to the development of the virtue ethics as an alternative theory (Bolman and Deal, 2003). Virtue ethics theory concentrates on the character traits of the leader and holds that it is at the place of the leader to realize some of the virtues like honesty, courage, or righteousness.
Elizabeth Anderson, a philosopher, developed the expressive theory of rational action and defines rationality as the action that an expresses a person’s attitude towards other people or things of value (Nullens, 2013). As a result, the grounds of rationality is the self and the decisions made regarding ethical values is a manifestation f the person’s values that are held within him/her and they are an indication of what he or she believes people, things, and values like character, attitudes, commitment, and concerns should have (Sanders et al., 2004). Based on this, for improvement on the ethicality of leadership, efforts should be towards the enhancement of the self of a leader as to be more inclusive, in peaceful state of consciousness, and holistic.
Empirical evidence from research shows that spirituality has a role in helping an individual to transcend a narrow self-conception and to adopt and practise genuine empathy with others as well as take a perspective that encompasses all in the organization (Kotter, 1999). Spiritual experiences that are experiences in everyday living go a long way in enriching the self, and despite the rich diversity of these spiritual experiences, the main ethical message is always that of love and compassion, empathy for all sentiment beings, and deep reverence for life and these three are the same across board (Conger, 1994). Through experiences, an individual is able to rewrite their values to develop new ones that are not based on the conventional norm, commandments, precepts, fear for punishment, but are based on knowledge and understanding of the universal order. In additional, through spiritual experiences an individual is able to understand that he/she is part of an integral part of the creation and by hurting others, one ends up hurting him/herself.
In leadership and management, spirituality is badly needed because management decisions have considerable effects on the fate and life’s of human communities, the natural ecosystem, as well as future generations. To ensure the wellbeing of all these stakeholders, there is need for authentic care which may develop through experiential one-ness with others and with the universe which is considered as being the source of creation (Conger, 1994). According to Bolman and Deal (2003), spiritual leadership should be attuned to spiritual values. Spiritual leadership is characterised by a virtuous approach which inculcates intrinsically faith, love, meaning, goal, interconnectedness, and integrity in the workplace. According to Conger (1994), some of the descriptors of spiritual leadership are vision, trust, humility, and integrity.
According to Nullens (2013), spiritual leadership is not only limited to relations with others in the workplace, but also the environment. Concern for the environment is considered a common good context and it creates synergy for spirituality in leadership. As a result, environmental leadership is a term that has been used in spirituality for leadership literature (Kotter, 1999; Bolman and Deal, 2003; Kinicki and Kreitner, 2006) and the concept underlying serves as a general call for individuals in leadership positions in organizations to apply leadership approaches in dealing with problems related to the environment especially in modern day management. Environmental leadership and spirituality for leadership have been attributed to contribution to quality improvement. Spiritually oriented leadership therefore deals with socio-cultural aspects which is predominant in environmental leadership (Hyatt, 2005). The environmental perspective of spirituality leadership brings in additional characteristics of leadership; tolerance, philanthropy, and patience.
The idea of spirituality in leadership with belief in the natural environment is consistent with the majority of world religions, sacred texts, and philosophies. As a result and as argued by Bolman and Deal (2003), the conceptualization of leadership and spirituality is closely related to culture of most communities. This is best witnessed in conflicts that arise when institutions and organizations disturb the native spiritual belief and ecological balance mainly because economy, to which many organizational goals are oriented to, is based on organizational procedures are and these give precedence to the governing process rather than protection of the native ecological order (Nullens, 2013). However, through the self-source theory of spirituality in leadership, spiritual leadership at an individual level simply seeks satisfaction, and to the community and corporate level it leads to attraction of more investors and better talented persons. Therefore, leadership that embraces spirituality is to become more prominent in the future because of the goodness of it.
In conclusion, the concept of spirituality for leadership exists without pressuring any individual in the organization and for leadership ethics; spirituality expresses itself through embodiment of values that include integrity and demonstration of spiritually oriented behaviours that include concern and care. For leaders who observe ethical practises, spirituality is the core of their inner and social lives. Leaders who practice spirituality in the workplace are considered to be visionary, inspirational, and able to move beyond limitations that might exist. Spiritual leadership is not only limited to relations with others in the workplace, but also the environment. Concern for the environment is considered a common good context and it creates synergy for spirituality in leadership. Spirituality in leadership at an individual level simply seeks satisfaction, and to the community and corporate level it leads to attraction of more investors and better talented persons hence, it is expected to become more popular with time.
- Bolman, L.G. and Deal, T.E. (2003). Reframing Ethics and Spirit. Business Leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9780787972554_sample_385534.pdf
- Conger, J. (1994). Our Search for Spiritual Community. In Spirit at Work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Hyatt, J. (2005).Birth of the Ethics Industry, Business Ethics Magazine, Summer, (Minneapolis, Minnesota). http://www.davidbeam.com/global-compliance-legacy/pdf/BirthofTheEthicsIndustry-BusinessEthics.pdf
- Kinicki, A., and Kreitner, R. (2006). Organizational Behavior. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin. http://www.gbv.de/dms/zbw/67056012X.pdf
- Kotter, J. (1999). Change Leadership. Executive Excellence 16, no. 4: 16–17. http://changeleadershiptraining.com/docs/Kovim_Change_Leadership_Brochure.pdf
- Nullens, P. (2013). Towards a Spirituality of Public Leadership: Engaging Dietrich Bonhoeffer.International Journal Of Public Theology, 7(1), 91-113. doi:10.1163/15697320-12341268. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/15697320-12341268;jsessionid=yb9xunwp2vdw.x-brill-live-03
- Sanders, J. E. III, Hopkins, W.E. and Geroy, G.D. (2004). Spirituality-Leadership-Commitment Relationships in the Workplace: An Exploratory Assessment. Proceedings of the Academy of Management National Meeting: A1–A6. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/proceedings/13862519/spirituality-leadership-commitment-relationships-workplace-exploratory-assessment