Category Archives: Leadership and vision

Spiritual leaders lead others to a shared vision

In a recent blog I shared with you some ideas concerning a spiritual leader’s responsibility to train others to a shared vision. Here I continue those ideas.

Leaders serve as facilitators and animators of a common vision.  They know that no individual owns the vision to share with followers, but that the vision is built around that shared identity of the group.  Shared values in a healthy corporate culture are the most important unifying force of the group. A good leader will achieve this through a process of vision development. The group participates in predetermining the vision either by their involvement or apathy.  Sometimes a group will need a leader to identify their distinctive contributions, selecting, synthesizing, articulating, and revising the group’s values.  Groups often cannot express their own mission, but they can recognize it when a leader they trust articulates their enduring values for them. Thus a leader can focus others’ attention and create in them a pervading passionate commitment for a vision that is unknowingly within them.  A leader attains consensus by making conscious what lies unconscious in the followers, calling them to articulate what is important to them in the core of their being.

Identifying a shared vision will require collaborative styles of learning, new group techniques for sharing ideas, and new skills of consultation, dialogue, group goal-setting, and strategic planning.  The group together seeks solutions, finds the common ground of unity and community, and searches for the synergy that common problem solving and planning can produce.  These creative forms of collaboration expand the group’s thinking, and can generate new meaning to the group’s decisions.  These early efforts to identify a shared vision is an experience of interdependency.

The leader will push down as far as possible not only consultation and decision making but also planning, strategizing, and goal setting.  The team or group takes over the role of the hierarchy in an organization.  However, to assure that the vision is shared within the organization, the leader will train groups to keep others in the next group above or below them informed about the essential components of the vision.

To identify a shared vision, a leader appreciates that the vision must turn inward to the group, but the focus must be on the people who are served by the vision.  He or she will take the vision seriously enough to seek out needed resources to attain it.  Identifying a shared vision cannot be restricted to one’s working life since a vision that enthuses people will do so because it touches their core values that will be the same in personal, community, and social life.

Groups do not pursue a vision that they do not own.  Vision refers to what a group is convinced it should be doing in a given time and situation.  Leaders must generate ownership of the vision they find in themselves and their followers; and this can take a long time, and much patience and fortitude. It is often said that leaders must leave followers a legacy, and surely it is the legacy that everyone has a part of the vision; everyone is individually important to the common enterprise.

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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.

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.

LEADERSHIP AND LOVE

 

A NEW BOOK

I would like to recommend to readers a new book of mine that speaks of love. This radical new interpretation of love as the touchstone of the Christian message explores the human longing for meaning; the Scriptures; the relational model of the Trinity: the ideas of human vocation, destiny and community; the mystical spiritual traditions; and our own experiences to explain what love is, how we find it, and how it can change the world. Love is critical component of good leadership.

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Spiritual leaders insist that people and relationships precede structures and tasks. This implies leaders need to think positively of others, try to understand them, forgive when necessary, and always show compassion. After all, the journey to spiritual leadership begins with an awareness of being loved, not with the leader’s love for others. The latter follows on the former and is a response to the call to leadership. It is a journey in which the leader daily makes decisions based on love. Thus, he or she changes attitudes to life, rejecting selfishness, greed, self-satisfaction, and thus moves away from self-centeredness to the service of others. Appreciating that one can transform leadership with love is a rigorous self-training. When a leader is motivated by a conviction of the transforming value of love, he or she treats others with a natural benevolence, wishes them well before any encounter, appreciates the good in others, and presumes that they will do good. This positive, optimistic approach to others has a healing effect on relationships and opens up the development of a different kind of leadership. Loving and encouraging approaches are more effective than adversarial ones and give the leader far more ability to influence others and draw the best out of them. In such an environment followers sense they are loved and grow as individuals and then contribute more to the common vision and mission.

When a leader focuses on the love of others in daily life, he or she emphasizes simple human qualities that are also a noble part of being human—attitudes that are humanizing, caring, trusting, and supportive. Focusing on others requires tolerance of their differences, dialogue, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It means mutual respect, appreciation of each other’s gifts and genuine solidarity. A leader can do so much good to others by allowing them to be themselves, living in interdependence and mutual esteem. For such a leader the welfare of others is as important as one’s own. This includes concern for others’ health and well-being, both material and spiritual. Engaging in the welfare of others calls the leader to delight in others’ growth and advancement, furthering their rights, protecting their justice, and celebrating their achievements and progress.

A spiritual leader who recognizes that he or she is called to love makes a positive difference to other people’s lives by respecting their dignity, empowering them in whatever ways possible, thus releasing their human energy, talent, and dedication. A spiritual leader can look into others’ hearts. Such a leader does not impose views, vision, or priorities, but influences others to be the best they are capable of being. Part of that response will be to help others appreciate their own basic values, enduring purpose, and mission in life. The leader can also train others to be visionaries; helping them to see what others do not, but also challenging them to look at things in a different way. This requires understanding, building connections, giving visibility and significant responsibilities to others, collaborating, challenging constructively, and working toward shared values and mission. Recognizing that one is called to love has serious consequences, for love is very practical and demanding on a leader at every moment of each day.

 

Some Practices that Spiritual Leaders Can Emphasize

2. APPRECIATE WHAT LIES BEYOND NORMAL HORIZONS.

Some leaders are entrapped in the parameters they have established. They pace around inside their own cage, the stronger eating the weaker, and they call this success. Not only is there a world outside the narrow confines of current leaders, but genuine leadership is only found outside such confines. Other so-called leaders plod ahead like the Budweiser horses with blinders on, less they be distracted by realities around them. The vision pursued by the leader of hope lies beyond normal horizons in the plan of God. Such a leader must have a facility in rising from daily occurrences to make connections to transcendent values. This is one of the most practical things anyone can do, for thinking of the vision of promise gives clear understanding and directives for daily life and leadership.

When you see someone being treated unjustly, ask yourself why you made such a conclusion. Are the links between right and wrong, justice and injustice something you have a natural feel for? Why? From where did you get such judgment? What is the measure you are using? When you witness exploitation, abuse, oppression, profiting from underprivileged, making money from undocumented immigrants, why do you consider this abnormal? What should be normal? Why do you think you should treat others as you would wish to be treated? When you hear of bosses rotating from one job to another, barely coping with their responsibilities, but receiving obscene salaries until you can get rid of them so they will do no more damage, how do you think they ought to act and why do you think so? What is the purpose of all our efforts? We work, earn, live, retire; is this all there is? When you look at the emptiness and smallness of the world of organizational development, why are you appalled by some actions and impressed by others?

Some values seem to draw out the best in people. When you see you are loved by someone, for no particular reason, you find that you are loveable and wonder why. Other people are loveable too, for no particular reason, except the fact they exist. Why do we appreciate love so much and just find it is right for everyone, not merited, but just right? Likewise, when you look beyond normal horizons of daily life, you appreciate justice, equality, love, interdependence, and goodness. Why?

Seeing what lies beyond normal horizons leads us to see and experience a loving God, and that experience changes all understandings of leadership. A leader of hope becomes ever more aware of the importance of love. “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). The seeker encounters values beyond normal horizons, and this new focus produces inspirational leadership. The new approach to leadership is more expansive and is based on a worldview that includes transcendent values.

Some spiritual leaders and visionary mystics who have appreciated what lies beyond normal horizons of life speak of their vision as one of beauty. They refer to this self-immersion in values of love, justice, goodness and so on, as an experience of beauty. John of the Cross, a dynamic individual to whom I have previously referred, speaks of seeking the beauty of God, experiencing a certain spiritual feeling of God’s presence, and  glimpsing God’s way of dealing with humanity as something of beauty. This beauty is not something visual but rather a glimpse into the harmony that exists in the vision of promise, a grasp of just how right everything is in the vision beyond the normal horizons of life—this is the vision for which the leader of hope strives every day.

5 Suggestions:

1. When faced with decisions, not only ask how, but also why.

2. Spend a little time each day in quiet reflection, empty of concerns, and  ready to receive.

3. Look at things that surprise you in life and ask why.

4. Think about why you are loved and loveable.

5. Ask yourself for answers to puzzling attitudes you meet in leaders you know.

 

For further developments see my book Courageous Hope: The Call of Leadership (Paulist Press, 2011).

Several suggested practices for a spiritual leader (Eighth)

8. MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO MOTIVATE THEMSELVES

Without a leader’s inspiration and persuasion followers gifts are log jammed, and their creative contributions go nowhere. A leader creates a suitable climate for the growth of ideas, fosters responsiveness and cooperation, and provides the creative spark that moves people forward. Great leaders of hope ask people to be greater than they are, and they work so that they might be.

A common error of leadership is to presume that motivation already exists because people come to work and put in their time. This mistaken assumption fails to appreciate that enthusiasm and apathy are two points on the same continuum.

In motivating others, leaders at times need to restrain their leadership, allowing followers to move alongside them. So, a leader should inspire not order, pull not push, and let people use their own initiative. Being alongside, a leader can ask probing questions, challenge expectations, affirm and reward successes, network, and build confidence through agreement.

In motivating others a leader must involve them in the work at hand and the process of change. A leader of hope will delegate significant responsibilities

A leader of hope appreciates the advantages of surprise. He or she can surprise followers with anticipatory benevolence; an attitude of always anticipating good will towards others. In contemporary working environments this surprising attitude of good will and affection can achieve wonders.

Part of motivation is to foster a collective commitment to a vision of hope.

5. Suggestions:

1. Identify ways to keep yourself motivated in your work.

2. List the ways you try to motivate others.

3. Train yourself to get out of the way and let others find their own leadership.

4. Involve workers in significant responsibilities.

5. Think of ways to surprise your workers and customers.

Several suggested practices for a spiritual leader (Seventh)

7.  CREATE INTERRUPTIONS

Our world of leadership seems sure of itself. Programs turn out graduates with a packet of skills to become leaders themselves. Well-known presidents and CEOs write their memoirs and tell us how it is done! We have seen so many failures, and each leader inflicts his or her own particular damage. In this process of interruption, doubt and uncertainty are good points of departure, followed by a healthy suspicion and skepticism, and culminating in enjoying a little insecurity for a while.

Part of the task of a great leader who wants to be a servant leader is to fight against the nearsightedness of contemporary leadership, to oppose the prepackaged answers, and seek something deeper. This can be an anxious time for a leader.

Often this questioning of the direction of leadership leads to conflict, but this too can raise the energy level and produce significant discussion. Conflict itself can lead to crisis which is an opportunity to make different judgments on the matters at hand

As a leader interrupts the discourse on the nature of leadership, he or she can engage in networking to surface ideas that can lead to new directions.

A lot of contemporary leadership is moderate management sprinkled with a little inspiration. If there is a culture of trust and a climate of creativity, then proactive individuals can think differently about the same things, engage in provisional thinking and decision-making, and courageously move to explore new concepts about leadership at the margins of organizational life. Here the skills are flexibility, improvisation, alternative thinking, bypassing of problems, innovation, and breakthrough.

5 Suggestions:

1. Spend some time reflecting on what is working in your leadership and what is not.

2. Identify those aspects of your leadership you would like to get rid of.

3. Think about which leadership practices in your organization you would like to stop.

4. Reflect on the leader you admire and ask yourself why.

5. Make sure you have created a climate where other people can interrupt your leadership.

Several Suggested Practices for a Spiritual Leader (Fourth)

4. A SPIRITUAL LEADER ASKS QUESTIONS NOONE 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 and for God. 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 God’s 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?

When a leader of hope 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?

What are the alternatives that we can use to achieve our goals equally well but which do more good?

The leader of hope constantly asks self, is what I do 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.