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Leading from a Spiritual Basis

 

What would you think if a senior vice-president from a multinational telecom firm said to you:

If ever there’s a time for spiritual leadership, it’s now. You must connect with a person’s soul, at the deepest core. It can sometimes be lonely but you also feel happy and grounded inside. You also embrace your own humanness and imperfections and it keeps you humble as a leader and yet still strong.

 

She and other executives like her have helped us realise that spirituality is an emerging basis for highly successful business leadership. While these words are an inspiration to many, they can also evoke scepticism, doubt, and criticism.

 

 

To put these reactions into perspective, we’ve found that over the last 100 years, four distinct contexts of leadership have emerged in business – each representing a fundamental change in how we view the nature of business leadership and will therefore shape the perspectives and reactions of its leaders.

 

  1. Paternal-mechanistic – From this view, business is “survival of the fittest,” and competition is a win-lose game, where the goal is wealth creation (specifically, profit-maximization) on behalf of business owners.

  2. Humanistic From this view, the purpose of business and leadership is still wealth creation, but with a win-win mentality in which “enlightened self-interest” supplants “selfish-interest.”  

  3. Holistic – From this view, the goal of business and leadership evolves beyond "wealth  creation for shareholders" to "wealth creation for the optimal benefit of all stakeholders" – including shareholders, employees, customers, community, nature, society, and future generations.

  4. Spiritual-based – From this view, the nature of business itself is transformed – so that the primary purpose of business and leadership is spiritual fulfilment and selfless service to society, where both are motivated from a transcendent Source of consciousness. Wealth creation is no longer the goal; it becomes a means for enabling and sustaining this purpose.

 

Each of the four contexts of business leadership all currently co-exist, sometimes not very peacefully, in today’s business world. Within a company, different leaders might operate from any one of these four contexts, and any single leader might operate from a blend of contexts.

 

The following research and publications are designed to contribute to this emerging spiritual-based context and to empower and guide those who are committed to leading from a spiritual basis.

  • The Global Dharma Center, in partnership with Dr. Peter Pruzan, professor emeritus at the Copenhagen Business School and his wife, Kirsten Pruzan Mikkelsen, a journalist and former editor who worked for almost 30 years at Det  Berlingske Hus, a major publishing house in Denmark, launched this research programme in 2002. The aim of this international research is to contribute to the emerging, worldwide consciousness about spiritual-based leadership in work organisations, through practical examples, inspiring stories, and quantitative data on the perspectives and practices of spiritual-based leaders around the world. Our current research focus is on business executives whose character is grounded in a consciously held spiritual view of life and who lead from that spiritual basis.
     

  • The Knowledge-base of Executive Interviews containing 33 full-length interviews with spiritual-based leaders from 6 continents and 16 countries, as well as data collected and sorted by specific search criteria, is now available for researchers, teachers, students, consultants and leaders.

  • The aim of this audio CD programme is to affirm, support, and develop organisational leaders in their capacity to lead from a spiritual basis. When this occurs, their organisations can build the character, and as well as the competencies, required for organisation transformation.

  • As described and discussed in this white paper, over the last 100 years, four distinct contexts of business leadership have emerged in the West: rationalistic, humanistic, wholistic, and spiritual-based. Each context represents a fundamental change in how we view the nature of business leadership. As we embrace and fulfill these contexts of business leadership, we believe it will naturally fuel a fundamental change in the nature of business itself, such that business and its leadership can take its rightful place in solving what seem to be the unsolvable problems in the world today.

In our Publications section, we have a wealth of resources for working and leading from a spiritual basis. Each can be downloaded at no cost. You can search in three categories:

 
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This website was last updated  29 December 2011