Leadership deals with establishing the vision of hope in our contemporary human communities. This means going beyond what leaders have done in the past. It means struggling with more fundamental questions, living in a state of sustained dissatisfaction with what has been achieved, looking to the future in hope, and being willing to live with the tensions of human frailty in its search for the best human values. All this will mean new ways of looking at the world, new experiments in community interaction, and new percolating structures. Leadership questions today are philosophical and theological. How does what I do affect the human community? How do my decisions reflect the best plan for humanity? Am I maturing as a human being through my leadership? Am I aware of my covenant with the organization I serve and of the organization’s covenant with its customers, shareholders, and so on? Do I serve the common good? Do my colleagues and I reflect the best of humanity? Does my leadership image the past or explore the future? Stephen Harper in his book, The Forward-Focused Organization, p. 108, pointed out that “Some executives answer questions that arise. Others identify questions that need answers. Others come up with the answers before anyone knows the questions.”

When a spiritual leader makes decisions, he or she should ask why am I doing this, not only in the short term but in the long term too. In later life will I be proud of what I do today? Am I exploring enough? Who will be affected by what I do and how? Can I live with the impact my decisions will have on people? Is my decision not only good for the firm and its shareholders, but also for the workers, their families, and this community? As I make a decision would my spouse or closest friends be proud of what I am doing? Would a mentor or someone I have always looked up to take pride in knowing they contributed to what I do?

Spiritual leaders ask themselves if they are anticipating the future for which they strive? If there are hurdles can they jump over them? Can they find potentialities for good in the negativity they face? Sometimes it will simply mean reframing the issues, other times it will necessitate a questioning of stereotypical reactions. Then the questions must focus proactively on alternatives for the future beyond current trends and probable outcomes; questions that do not imply looking to the future from here but looking to the present from a believed-in and hoped-for future. What are the alternatives that we can use to achieve our goals equally well but which do more good?

Looking with foresight at the many opportunities ahead, leaders will need to be courageous and venturesome. When they recognize a window of they should ask for what is this truly an opportunity? Looking to the future never means abandoning the past. A great leader knows how to capitalize on ideas that are both new and old. These are wise leaders who plunge into unfamiliar depths, transform situations, turn the status quo into something special, and tie a familiar past with a new reality. Spiritual leaders constantly ask themselves whether what they are doing is in keeping with the best of who we are as human beings?

5. Suggestions:

1. Question yourself on the reasons for your decisions.

2. Do not offer answers until you have exhausted the questions.

3. See yourself and encourage others to see you as a person who asks  questions not as someone who gives answers.

4. Ask questions about the future not the past.

5. Ask beyond and beneath what others ask.



About Leonard Doohan

Dr. Leonard Doohan is Professor Emeritus at Gonzaga University where he was a professor of religious studies for 27 years and Dean of the Graduate School for 13 years. He has written 17 books and 160 articles and has given over 350 workshops throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Far East. Leonard's recent books include Spiritual Leadership: the Quest for Integrity, in 2007, Enjoying Retirement: Living Life to the Fullest, in 2010, and Courageous Hope: The Call of Leadership, in 2011. Leonard's wife is Helen who was also a Professor Emerita at Gonzaga, specializing in the writings of Paul.

Posted on July 10, 2013, in Leadership, Leadership and spirituality, Leadership and values. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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