Category Archives: Leadership and spirituality

Leadership, Integrity, and the Pursuit of Excellence

Integrity is directly linked to the pursuit of excellence. Persons who are really in touch with themselves make the best leaders.  They evidence dignity in their service of others and appear to others as having healthy self esteem, socially satisfied, and fulfilled.  They are known for their abiding sense of excellence, inner directedness, integrity, and commitment. These moral leaders are creators and stewards of core values; while always sensitive to the needs of followers, they above all stand tall for the values of the organization.  They affirm, regenerate and renew institutions.  They freely choose their own identity, and it includes to be known for integrity. They constantly foster trust, maintain open communication, and can let go of their own control to others. They are aware that their leadership has lasting value on their own lives, the quality of their work, the development of their community, and society in general.  Such leaders gain stature among their peers, respect from superiors, even when they do not agree, admiration from people who do not share their views, and personal vocational fulfillment. Leaders who have integrity can handle conflict well for they are always willing to learn and always ready to treat others with understanding and compassion. They can relieve anger in a group by allowing discussion of the “undiscussible,” in fact, they can do the same with their opposition.  Having worked hard for something and even been committed to it, they can also conclude with inner freedom and a non-defensive approach “this reality is no longer acceptable.”

Motivated by authenticity, ethical sensibility, and genuine spirituality, leaders of integrity are people of inner serenity and peace, resist being controlled, learn to skillfully neglect the petty or inauthentic values of their own organizations, find common ground with all kinds of groups, and can give comfort or create disturbance as appropriate.  They love the institutions they lead and at the same time maintain a healthy skepticism toward them. Their authenticity and integrity lift the spirits of everyone and give hope to followers and community around them.

Followers give power and authority to people of integrity (referent power), they are proud of their organization, feel a genuine sense of ownership of it, and experience team spirit with the leader.  Perhaps the greatest result in the lives of leaders of integrity is that they transform their institutions through ongoing conversion.  Facilitating institutional conversion is a leader’s primary task and is impossible without individual integrity.  It needs to be clear to followers what the leader stands for and that he or she will be firmly dedicated to the mission and vision.

 

 

LEADERSHIP AND VOCATIONAL INTEGRITY

I would like to continue some reflections on integrity. It is so much needed today. We need leaders who are willing to become men and women of integrity and show others what good spiritual leadership can be like. So, leaders of integrity are self-directed, pro-active, always accountable, passionately committed to others, they take care of themselves, accept their own gifts, celebrate their own values and priorities, are candid with coworkers, and know what vision drives them.  For such people, leadership is personal development—a journey from acknowledgment of our false selves to the acceptance of our own personal authenticity. It is also the context for individual and organizational development in which the integrity of the latter depends on the integrity of the former.

But, they also internalize social responsibility, and open to genuine dialogue with all around them, aware that their own experiences are always partial and fragmentary.  They accept responsibility, blame no one, and prove every day that their moral centers influence all they do. Personal integrity and social responsibility must also conclude in institutional integrity.  At a time when there are so many critics and pseudo experts, a genuine leader stands up courageously for the institution he or she serves, constantly aware of the purpose of institutions and their normal tendency to self corrupt.  Endowed with courage of conviction, such leaders can move us beyond the comfort that institutions insist on providing, to the alternative ways of living as a community.

Personal, relational, institutional, and vocational integrity reinforce quality of life and lasting leadership.  Leadership lives at the intersection of the authentic and inauthentic, tilting the world toward the authentic.  Leadership is always mindful that, as we call forth authenticity we can never forget that the conflicts and ambiguities of action reside not just in the world but also within ourselves. Leadership is a spiritual journey to the depths of one’s inner convictions, where, alone, one hears a call that no one else hears.  Inner integrity calls leaders to be real, humane, open to the signs of the times, and confident in themselves and their values.  On a more practical level it will require short response time, follow-up to problems, justification for decisions made,  creativity, and willingness to be open to hidden opportunities.

Integrity is not a technique to improve one’s leadership. It is integral to one’s humanity and destiny. Everyone needs integrity, but for leaders it is crucial for the success of their leadership.

 

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND THE NEED OF INTEGRITY

Integrity is not a word we frequently use for today’s leaders. Many leaders today lack integrity and transparency, and we hear denunciations of corruption too often for comfort. integrity requires courage to speak the truth, to accept one’s own independence and autonomy, to honestly present the implications of a vision, and to faithfully persevere in the demands of a vision even when it means standing alone. Integrity includes accepting one’s own blind spots and failures. Integrity is primarily an inner self-knowledge but also refers to followers’ perception that leaders’ values and actions match their words. It is a form of holistic living. Leading holistically also means living one’s life motivated by a set of core values that place a high priority on integrity, service, and spirituality.  Integrity includes being absolutely candid and evidencing intellectual honesty in the things one says, consistency in dealing with others, honesty in handling conflict. It implies accepting what we have been and imagining what we can be. It is the spiritual discipline of always speaking the truth, of making sure we do what we claim we will do, and of being ready to hold on to the course of action. When a person has integrity he or she gains trust. However, the integrity must involve every aspect of one’s life—personal, relational, organizational, and societal.

This basic leadership ingredient is an added value to competence.  It is beyond expertise and motivation, it is the honesty that one’s core beliefs guide one’s decision-making in leadership.  It requires self-acceptance, truthfulness, fortitude, and inner peace.  It establishes congruence between one’s inner and outer reality.  Individuals earn the right to be called leaders when people find authentic unity between their organizational and professional commitment and their spiritual lives. In fact, a person is not free to lead unless he or she understands humanity, its nature, feelings, processes, and inner yearnings for self-actualization.

Leaders of integrity bring quality presence to all they do.  Aware of their own stature as leaders, sensitive to their obligations to others in society, they can peacefully face the falsity and dark side of themselves, of their communities, and of society.  Because of their integrity they can attain the characteristics of a successful leader, namely one who can challenge the process, inspire a shared vision, enable others to act, model the way, and encourage the heart of the followers. Let us hope for more leaders of integrity.

 

Contemporary Spirituality for Christian Adults

While the concept of spiritual leadership is wider than Christianity, those Christians who wish to dedicate themselves to spiritual leadership need to be well-informed about the essential values of Christianity. Here are two books that help in that regard.

There is a great excitement and enthusiasm among so many people today to deepen their knowledge of their faith and strengthen their spiritual commitment by pursuing the priorities of Jesus. This yearning of so many was met by the teachings and renewal of the Second Vatican Council which attracted people of all walks of life to a more responsible and active dedication to their faith after decades of fostered passivity. After the Second Vatican Council many believers read books and studied their faith. They attended workshops, conferences, courses, and retreats. There was lots of enthusiasm and intense desire to know more about faith and spirituality. We had an informed laity. Unfortunately this is no longer the case today. Much of this enthusiasm has waned, as many Church officials have returned to a pre-Conciliar approach to theology and spirituality and focused more on social-sexual issues rather then evangelical challenges. A Church with these emphases has no future.

A new spirit is stirring in the Church. We must overcome the failures of the past and prepare ourselves for a future of growth and responsibility. Let us rekindle spiritual insight, accept our spiritual destiny, and refocus on the essential teaching of salvation. While many have left the institutional churches, and sadly may never return, perhaps the challenge to renewal of Pope Francis may re-attract them to the essentials of Christian commitment.

The Church  needs to refocus on informed believers, giving them opportunity to deepen their knowledge of the essential teachings of faith and nurture their spirituality. I have written two short books that I believe can help you nurture your faith and spirituality and enable you to be a serious Christian presence in the contemporary world.

These books are short and divided into even shorter sections, so that you can read one section a week to nurture your spiritual life. They include questions for personal reflection. Take an e-book with you on your daily travels and read a section now and again. It will make all the difference to you in your Christian commitment. Form a discussion group around the idea of each book.

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1. Ten Strategies to Nurture Our Spiritual Lives: Don’t stand still—nurture the life within you.

This book presents ten key steps or strategies to support and express the faith of those individuals who seek to deepen their spirituality through personal commitment and group growth. These ten key components of spirituality enable dedicated adults to bring out the meaning of their faith and to facilitate their spiritual growth. It offers a program of reflection, discussion, planning, journaling, strategizing, and sharing.

 

2. Rediscovering Jesus’ Priorities.

This book urges readers to look again at Jesus’ teachings and identify the major priorities. It is a call to rethink the essential components of a living and vital Christianity and a challenge to rediscover the basic values Jesus proclaimed. Use the book for a short meditation and personal examination, as a self-guided retreat to call yourself to renewed dedication to Jesus’ call, or for group discussion and renewed application of Jesus’ teachings.

 

Books are available from amazon.com/author/leonarddoohan

Train Others to be Visionaries

In recent blogs we have looked at characteristics of spiritual leaders. In this blog and in the next I would like to share with you some ideas concerning a spiritual leader’s need to train others to be visionaries.

Train Others to be Visionaries

Clearly an individual can have a vision for his or her own life with little impact on others. In other words, vision and leadership do not have to go together.  Healthy hermits have vision.  When we speak about vision and leadership, we imply that the leader’s vision is shared with others who are also inspired and motivated by it.  For any leader who believes his or her vision has value for others, he or she must give others the time and space to identify the common vision and make it their own.  A leader can initiate this process, encourage people to question and challenge the status quo, even gently motivate and persuade others as to its values, but can never impose the vision nor allow it to override the visions of others.  In fact, a leader will have to let go of his or her individual vision so that it can gradually become the group’s vision. Ownership of a vision must be enthusiastically discovered by each individual, changing mind and mind set, buying into a new way of looking at reality.

Sometimes members of an organization believe in the common vision, but they do not understand it or live it, nor do they understand its implications, nor would they know whether the vision was actualized or not.  In fact, they simply presume it exists.  This is not enough because not all visions become reality.  A leader must facilitate commitment to a shared vision. These visionary leaders are not born but self-made. They bring people together into a cohesive group through dedication to common, basic values, and shared purpose in life.  It is these common spiritual values that generate commitment and energize people, create meaning in their lives, establish standards of excellence, and bridge the present and the future. When this is done successfully visionary leadership is made visible, and the transformative impact on individuals and organizations is exceptional.

A leader needs communication skills to both convey and maintain a vision, needs impressive management skills to maintain the charismatic image, and needs empowering skills to assure participation.  Leaders must also live in a state of continued dissatisfaction with things as they are, knowing that to be fully satisfied means to have lost vision. Since training others to be visionaries means helping them to be proactive, the leader must help others to anticipate problems and responses. A leader must surface new ideas in others and celebrate them when discovered. This outlook is particularly evident in times of crisis and chaos, when one order is passing and another has the chance to come forth. Leaders’ guidance and vision are critical at such times, when groups move to alternative consciousness and perception from that of the surrounding culture.

Transformational leadership–quote for reflection

So ,many writers talk about transformational leadership, I think the following description catches both the visionary and practical sides of this quality.

” Superior leadership performance–transformational leadership–occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees, when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group.”

Bernard Bass, “From Trasactional to Transformational Leadership: Learning to Share the Vision,” Organizational Dynamics 18 (1990): 21.

Spiritual Leadership Includes Encouraging Followers to Welcome Change and Crisis

One of the important  ways of influencing followers to be spiritual leaders of vision is the way a leader encourages them to deal with change and crisis, and to handle those special moments when vision can become reality. Managing change well is what leadership is all about. This part of a leader’s commitment includes changes in the physical aspects of the organization – working conditions, financial stability and so on. It also focuses especially on the intellectual parts of change that leads the organization to new perspectives on their work, innovation, creativity, and appropriate environment that is conducive to creativity. Moreover, leaders must manage the emotional aspects of change that assure the mutual support, respect, and appreciation that all need. Leaders will also need to overcome resistance to change and foster a willingness to pay the price of change. Finally, they must focus on the spiritual aspects of change that produce inner transformation leading to love, integrity, justice, and mutual dignity. Making these changes with followers and managing them well is a way that the leader can establish ownership for the changes.

Major changes that significantly affect an organization are generally referred to as crises. Crisis is defined as a crucial or decisive turning point, an unstable condition, a sudden change in course, the point at which hostile forces are in a state of opposition. The original meaning of crisis is judgment, or discernment. Crisis is a turning point when a new kind of judgment is needed. That is why leadership theorists suggest that leadership emerges in times of crisis; without crisis we generally have simply management. In other words, leadership is the combination of that vision and those skills that empower a person to handle crisis creatively, caringly, and productively. But crises, like most changes, are different now than they used to be. In fact, many former crises are now handled proactively as part of good management, and some former crisis management skills are now left in disuse.

Contemporary leaders know that their effectiveness is linked to confronting crises with style. We still deal with explosive crises that need a leader’s immediate and full attention, but we need to redefine crisis based on the problems that a leader meets on a day to day basis. The contemporary challenge for leaders is whether they can handle productively the creeping crises that their institutions face in struggling for vision, financial security, market share, and personnel stability. Crisis is now structural and systemic; it is not out there, but is part of who we all are together in an organization. Moreover, leaders do not view crisis negatively but as an occasion when a leader can work with followers to discern a new direction and bring all members of the community to greater maturity in the way they implement a shared vision in times of change. Again we can see that part of the creeping crisis that organizations face is that leadership is different than it used to be and requires changes in roles and emphases. In fact, leadership itself is part of the ongoing creeping crises in organizations. Leadership used to be presumed to accompany authority and was given to experience, tradition, and institutional positions. No one can live off a title anymore. In fact, authority is now short term for many; and without them realizing it many people’s leadership evaporates and all they are left with is their position. Crisis still calls forth great leaders but now they courageously respond aware of their interrelatedness with their followers. Leaders today establish directions for their organizations, and they reaffirm confidence in the gifts, maturity, and growth potential of their followers. Such persons see crisis and the disagreement, tension, and conflict that accompany it as part of life. Leaders encourage the participation of all in solving a crisis, avoid the power plays of the needy immature, and dedicate themselves to eliminate any pathological aspects that organizations can evidence in time of change and crisis. In times of change and crisis management, leaders show confidence in followers, channel their gifts, unite them in a common vision, and motivate their commitment.

Explosive crises of the past called forth the lonely visionary whose skill and judgment brought speedy resolution to an immediate and critical problem. Nowadays lonely visionaries cannot  answer creeping crises but only communities can do so in their collaborative responses. Spiritual leaders appreciate that their effectiveness depends on their ability to foster a sense of shared responsibility, and to utilize collaborative skills. Good leaders do not anxiously anticipate change and crisis, but rather they enthusiastically welcome them for these situations give leaders significant opportunities to model, and to coach others through times of change while preserving the essential characteristics of a shared vision.

Spiritual Leadership and the Need of Integrity

We have been looking at a series of qualities necessary for authentic spiritual leadership. Perhaps the most fundamental is integrity. Recent years evidence a series of shifts in the values people expect to discover in their leaders. Among the shifts we see new emphases on others, on service, on collaboration, and on family values. Some values seem to be perennial, among which we find respect, honesty, and integrity. This shift in values is part of recent theories of leadership that emphasize followers’ attributions to leaders, seeing leader-follower relationships as critical to the understanding of leadership. Nowadays, people want to see that their leaders are genuine, do not need to defend every issue that is questioned, and can maintain their values with humility. Some followers trust a leader based on experience, nowadays followers trust as an act of faith in the sincerity of a leader’s proclaimed values. So, from this perspective, two attitudes are critical to leadership, personal integrity in relation to one’s vision of life, and integrity in relation to the organization’s primary values, issues, and loyalties.  People need to know that their leaders are credible and are true to themselves in what they convey by word and life.  Integrity is a constitutive component of leadership. People want to have confidence in their leaders, knowing they will consistently live according to the vision and values they proclaim.  Since being an agent of change is essential to leadership, people need to be assured that the individual leading them through change is a person of integrity in terms of the communal vision and values.

Wise transformational leaders who need to constantly deal with ambiguity, with change, and frequently with conflicting solutions need to be people of integrity.  Then when they see solutions others do not see, their followers will still trust them.  The indispensable quality for leadership that holds everything else together is integrity, the balance between personal and public life.

Although integrity is so central, we also must acknowledge that people are not finding it, and they are crying out for it.  We all know individuals who had potential as leaders but never achieved a position of recognized faithfulness and integrity.  We talk about striving for excellence, but we know there is a lot of rottenness.  Some seem intellectually or spiritually maimed by inappropriate training.  Some potential leaders continue to do what they have always done and find enough work to keep themselves busy, as the thoughtful, polite undertakers of stable, declining, or dying organizations. Some leaders practice selective perception, only seeing what they want to see, seemingly unaware that eighty-five percent of all problems in an organization are caused by management.  Afraid of the future and insecure in interpreting the vision for changing times, some cling to non-essentials.  Some leaders still manifest the kind of neutrality which hides a commitment to the status quo, and followers quickly perceive the lack of integrity.  However, we need also to acknowledge that followers sometimes have such deep needs that they grant credibility to a leader even though they know integrity is lacking.

We have some great leaders in every walk of life, but besides them, we often have a lot of mediocre personalities in situations where they claim to be leading others who are clearly ahead of the leader.  The increasing problem of burnout in leadership, spiritual impoverishment in some cases, a passive stance by others, lower levels of self-esteem, have all weakened integrity.  Some  leaders feel their lives are controlled by outside forces.  Others, while achieving institutional goals, do not seem to attain their own full potential.  Some knowingly live with organizational disabilities, without the courage to confront or challenge.  Some current leaders, facing insecurity and challenge, generate myths about their own authority and expect followers to believe them.  Others have had serious problems, suffering as they do from the tyranny of petty laws. They allow structures and systems to continue when it is clear they are not working, and yet they are unwilling to change the organization and its culture.  Others are dominated by causes and not by the pursuit of truth.  Some traditions have a distorted understanding of their leaders, turning them into gurus and myths.  Some organizations intended to facilitate the charismatic end up obscuring it, promising care but delivering control, insisting on service but emphasizing authority.  In all these cases integrity is sacrificed.

Leaders in dysfunctional organizations frequently strive without success to generate the integrity that leads to trust. Trust is born from a combination of integrity and competence. Without integrity there is no trust. When workers practice secrecy, live in constant competition and jealousy, and do not show mutual respect, appreciation, and support, the resulting attitude is negative, evidences fear of rejection, and creates a sense of constant mutual distrust. Some managers become bureaucrats who give inadequate attention to followers, are unavailable for interpersonal reactions because of constant meetings, and ask for mere token involvement by others—attitudes that followers readily recognize and repay with distrust. Some managers do not trust others enough, claim authority in non-essentials, and lose themselves in organizational trivia. They end with inadequate time for their own personal growth and for quality time with others—attitudes that generate the same responses in followers. The lack of trust leads to fragmentation, competition, and reactiveness. When a leader pays lip service alone to the idea of creating an environment of trust, the followers give only lip service in return.

Leaders who strive to be recognized for integrity must build trusting environments around them. Leadership is achieved together, and it implies a bonding with others. An organization with a trusting environment appreciates diversity, shares values and vision, fosters good clear communication, and mutually challenges members to their tasks. It is at the same time centralized and decentralized; the leader appreciates that excellence in building a trusting environment demands constant focus on organizational culture. Today=s leaders must see themselves as creators of the values, mission, and spiritual dimension of an organization=s distinctiveness. In fact, they must have the courage to create a loving environment, constantly aware that without such an environment political infighting, petty jealousies, lies and distrust arise.

When a leader wishes to foster trust, he or she must highlight the positive, give clear visible evidence of trust, respect others= freedom, handle their mistakes well, and be ready to compromise to meet consensus. Trust includes the acceptance of risk—letting others be free enough to make their own choices and decisions. A leader must eliminate fear in the organization, create an atmosphere of interdependence, make it obvious that he or she appreciates the gifts of others, and that he or she yearns to collaborate by sharing concerns, values, and vision. The leader will need flexibility in dealing with others’ approaches, and a facility in living with ambiguity and tension as a step on the road to shared commitment.

Trust comes—and  an acknowledgment of integrity will follow—when  followers become convinced that a leader is worthy of them, that he or she approaches issues with well established prejudices of people over laws and collaboration over autocracy. Nowadays, followers trust a effective transformational leader who maintains a healthy concept of self, community, common vision, and mutual responsibility.

Trust implies a confident hope in others, relying on their authenticity and integrity—at times even before they have proved it. It is at the same time an expectation and an obligation—the emotional glue that binds leaders and followers together. Trust is earned by taking risks—allowing others to make their own choices. It implies treating others as dependable, deserving of confidence, and reliable. Trust is the foundation of collaboration and partnership in a shared vision and a common mission.

Some practices that spiritual leaders can emphasize

5. TEACH A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF COMMITMENT

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.

SOME PRACTICES THAT SPIRITUAL LEADERS CAN EMPHASIZE

4. ASK QUESTIONS NO ONE ELSE DOES

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.