Saturday, July 09, 2005


How to Lead with Spiritual Purpose, Values and Creativity

Kahil Gibran once wrote in the Prophet, Work is love made visible. When you work with love,
You bind yourself to yourself and to others and to God. In a way, that is the bold possibility that is available to all of us.
In more detail, that bold possibility is:
· Spirituality is the context for revolutionary, transformational leadership
· Leaders develop within themselves a purity and unity of thought, word and deed
· Leaders actively express their spiritual character in every aspect of their lives
· Spiritual values transform all aspects of life in business and in society
· Naturally resulting in spiritual well-being and global prosperity
Such a vision naturally invokes skepticism, in this case of two kinds. Some people are positive about business, but skeptical about spirituality. They would say things like, “Business and spirituality just don’t mix.” Some people are positive about spirituality and skeptical about business. They say things like, “You can’t really be spiritual if you are involved in business.”
But this skepticism, from a spiritual perspective, is welcome and it only invites a deeper inquiry into the relationship between the two. For some people it seems impossible to bring these two worlds together. I am reminded of a wonderful passage from Alice in Wonderland. Alice says, “One can’t believe impossible things.” The queen says, “I dare say you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Is it really impossible to be spiritual and be successful in business? Janiece Webb, senior vice
president with Motorola certainly doesn’t believe so, for she recently told me,
I do believe strongly in leading in a spiritual way. It keeps you from doing many short-term
tactical actions that are often wrong for the business and the people. It also gives you immense courage to stand tall against politics. Being a spiritual leader can sometimes be lonely, but you feel happy and grounded inside. You also embrace your own humanness and imperfection. And, it keeps you humble as a leader and yet still strong.
In the past decade three questions have emerged in an ever-widening dialogue about spirituality and business. The first is, “How can we bring spiritual values into business?” This holds business as the context with the attempt to fit spiritual values into it. The second question is, “How can we integrate spirituality and business?” This has spirituality and business as equal playing fields with an attempt to bring a balance or overlap between them. The third is, “How can we unfold business from a spiritual context?” This has spirituality as the context, or the framework, in which we will look at how a business can then grow and unfold.
I find the third question to be most expansive, in mind, heart and soul. It brings about the widest and deepest creative answers. It also includes the two other questions in its scope. These questions in this ever-widening dialogue is most timely today because we live in a world in which our life goals are seriously out of balance. We find ourselves pursuing wealth without harmony with creation, creating a condition of global hyper-competition and global greed. And, we are pursuing our desires, but without spiritual fulfillment, creating a condition of global consumerism and global stress.
We can feel overwhelmed by the complexity of figuring out how to bring our lives, our wealth, and our environment back into greater balance, especially if we operate from the same mindset that created these conditions in the first place. Yet, simultaneously, a new consciousness is dawning with the promise of a new balance, from a spiritual context. Actually, it’s not a new consciousness, but a revolutionary return to our spiritual nature, and allowing that nature to return us to balance, integrity, and true global prosperity.
One sign of this dawning is a spiritual awakening in people. According to recent gallop poll data, people are wanting more spiritual growth, are not having the time to have it, and yet still they are speaking up about spirituality where they work. And, people are putting their money where their hearts are, they’re investing more and more in socially responsible companies.
There’s also a spiritual awakening in business. Consulting firms such as McKinsey are rolling out spiritually-based training programs and finding that they have a significant, positive effect on productivity, employee retention, and even market share. Business books on spiritual in business are the fastest growing segment of the business book industry. And the stories in this program about CEO’s, show that the revolution has started even at the very top. Ricardo Levy, CEO of Catalytics, Inc., has recently written,
Executive corporate leadership is a vocation that has equal dignity and equal critical societal impact to that of a priest or teacher. Spirituality has a very important role in the professional life of a business leader. And spirituality goes far beyond the time set aside for religious practice. That spirituality is inside of me, that spirituality is the compass in everything I do.
Is it a bold thing to say that executive corporate leadership is a vocation with equal dignity to that of a priest or a teacher? Perhaps. But consider that the average working adult easily spends 40 – 50% of their waking life at work. And that doesn’t even figure in the average commute. What a shame if that time is spent in spiritual sleep. The invitation to each of us is to be spiritually awake at work, which quite naturally invites others to awaken to their own spiritual nature.

Four Faculties of a Spiritually-Based Leader
Here are the four faculties of a spiritually-based leader:
1. Establish your spiritual context, that is: learn and validate what is a spiritual context to
2. Explore your spirituality from the inside out, that is: identify how you best grow your Spiritual awareness.
3. Embody spiritual principles in your leadership, that is: see what it looks like waking up as
a spiritual leader each day.
4. Engage in revolutionary activities, that is: stretch your ideas of what’s possible in who you are, what you can contribute, and how you can lead.
I’ve chosen the sequence for presenting these four faculties quite deliberately. The first, establish
Your spiritual context gets you going on your inner revolution with a firm foundation. The second explore your spirituality from the inside out, takes you even deeper. The third, embody spiritual principles in your leadership, begins your entry into your day-to-day world. Or, as my wife says, “Where you’re learning to play the violin in public.” The fourth, engage in revolutionary activities, takes you even further into the outer revolution making a spiritual difference in your world.
Let’s review each of these faculties and the practices that strengthen them. The first capability of a spiritually-based leader is to establish your spiritual context. In my love of reading scriptures from all around the world, there are two passages that really speak to me about this particular faculty. The first is from Corinthians in the New Testament of the Holy Bible, We are laborers together with God. And further from the Sufi’s book of Wisdom, among the signs of success at the end, is the turning to God at the beginning.

Establishing Your Spiritual Context
Establishing your spiritual context is the very beginning. Why do I say that? Why do I start here?
In a sense it is simply because you get to jump right in to the “heart” of the matter. The first
Practice to strengthen this capability is to define your own relationship between spirituality and religion. Many people have been thankful for this distinction between spirituality and religion; it removes a major stumbling block to engaging in this dialogue.

By William C. Miller
Co-founder, Global Dharma Center

© 2003 Global Dharma Center. Duplication IS permitted.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!
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