Some practices that spiritual leaders can emphasize


One key practice that spiritual leaders can emphasize is to teach others a new understanding of commitment. Spiritual leaders embody both professional commitment and discretionary commitment. Every good spiritual leader challenges self and followers to wholehearted commitment. The spiritual leader links professional commitment to the integral human, spiritual maturing of self and each follower. Professional commitment becomes part of one’s spirituality and thus draws out discretionary dedication from everyone. In this context outstanding performance is a matter of personal growth, integrity, character development, and simply being who one feels called to be. Leaders must fire followers’ hearts to see professional dedication and spirituality as two facets of the same life.

Such leaders enthuse followers to be dedicated to a shared vision that can fill everyone with hope. Commitment relates to the future and so includes imagination, contemplation, and hope. This implies networking to discover other people’s hopes and constantly urging and encouraging others to be open to the unexpected. Commitment is essentially making the vision of hope real in the present.

This commitment to hope implies transformative action as part of one’s dedication. Leaders of hope not only have a deep capacity for hope but a life-long dedication to realizing the future we long for. Doing well needs to be permeated by doing good; ethics matters in one’s commitment. This includes strengthening the conviction that work leads to transformation. The primary commitment of a leader is personal transformation; all else follows from this focus.

Commitment is relational. Others are included in our commitment as we are in theirs. It means sharing experiences, integrating individual and communal dedication to shared goals—professional and personal. This approach calls for mutual trust, benevolence towards each other, and shared hope. It implies mutual dedication to draw out the best in everyone and to capitalize on the unique contribution each one can make.

Commitment is to each other to work synergetically. Synergy means working together of unlike elements to create desirable results greater than the independent parts can do. No one can achieve significant transformation alone. Commitment of each one is everyone’s business. This “fusion leadership” makes productivity and professional development a part of personal and communal spirituality. This kind of leadership “is about joining, coming together, creating connections and partnerships. It is about reducing barriers by encouraging conversations, information sharing, and joint responsibility across boundaries”. (a good book to consult on this topic would be Richard L. Daft and Robert H.  Lengel, Fusion Leadership: Unlocking the Subtle Forces that Change people and Organizations (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 1998).

Commitment means encouraging each other to be leaders. No one can be passive, for we live in a time of great need for quality leadership. Everyone needs to be inspired but also inspire, to be motivated but also to motivate, to be healed but also to heal, to be taught but also to teach, and to be led but also to lead. This commitment to mutual leadership implies humility, listening, mutual appreciation, and a sense of group development.

Commitment not only implies excellence, hope, transformative action, sharing, fusion, and mutual leadership, but it calls for selfless, loving service at every level of the organization. Leaders can no longer hide from major trends in contemporary society or become faceless to the social needs for justice and equality. In practice this means one’s commitment includes daily striving to understand others, share with them, and receive emotional support, show care and mutual compassion. This loving service will also manifest quality commitment in collaboration in culturally and gender diverse situations. For a leader of hope commitment is not merely to a job well done, but to a vision of community.

5. Suggestions:

1. Think about ways you can make an ideal future alive today.

2. Ask yourself why are you dedicated at work and what is the quality of  your commitment.

3. Check how you contribute to the development of your colleagues.

4. If you contribute more on your own than with others, ask why.

5. Identify the links between your professional dedication and personal  spirituality.


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 August 23, 2013, in Leadership, Leadership and spirituality, Leadership and vision, Spiritual leadership. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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