Category Archives: Spirituality
3. SPIRITUAL LEADERS THINK, MEDITATE, AND CONTEMPLATE
Leaders of hope are men and women of wisdom who make their judgments based on a combination of conceptual thinking, imaginative skills, an artistic sense, intuition, contemplative insight, and the system and community skills of love. These components of decision-making imply new ways of thinking, meditating, and contemplating. Nowadays we no longer value leaders who can make snap judgments, but those who think things through and make correct judgments. We have no use for the so-called leader who makes “those tough decisions,” but one who thinks of every alternative and of everyone involved, and comes up with a decision that is hope-filled in difficult times. We value leaders who have intellectual curiosity.
The spiritual leader of hope is not satisfied only with thinking, but learns to discover and appreciate deeper levels of meaning through meditation. Meditation is discursive thought but gradually becomes a form of prayerful reflection on concrete matters to determine how things ought to be done according to the vision of promise. Gradually, this process becomes simpler until it is a form of centering mind and heart on the issues.
1. As a spiritual leader you should make judgments you can live with and die with.
2. Train yourself to leave aside prejudice in decision-making.
3. Learn a simple method of meditation; if necessary find a teacher.
4. Think of the consequences in others’ lives of what you do.
5. Besides preparing yourself with research and analysis for your work as a leader, also ready your heart and soul.
Spiritual Leadership and Shared Vision
WHAT IS VISION?
A vision articulates what an individual or organization wishes to become. Having vision essentially implies seeing what others do not see; it means appreciating the beauty, hope, and challenge that new ideas can bring to individuals and organizations. It is a form of wisdom to really know where one is going—even amidst ambiguity, conflict, and constant change—this gives one authority with others. Vision includes the ability to see the big picture, all sides of an issue, to let go of vested interests and eliminate biases, and thus to avoid problems that arise from short sidedness and parochialism. Frequently, it refers to the future and implies that a leader acts proactively; it then brings out the best in oneself and in others. Increasingly, it means having insight into present realities and capitalizing on some immediate perspective that others do not appreciate. Vision is not simply the prolonging of the present but the rethinking of the whole immediate reality. Vision becomes an attractive and attainable dream. While unsettling and seemingly dangerous, it is constructive of the future. Vision can also be retrospective, analyzing untapped energy in past failures or short-sightedness in leaders who could not see. So vision can be exercised toward the past, present, and future; it is retrospective, perspective, and prospective.
DELIBERATELY LOOK AT THINGS IN A DIFFERENT WAY
More importantly nowadays, vision is not only seeing in a way others do not see, it is a deliberate decision to look at things in a new way. It starts with one’s basic values and one’s deliberately identified purpose in life. These two facets of one’s personality together form one’s philosophy of life. These lead to one’s sense of mission or destiny, and out of this comes goals and strategies. Vision as a deliberate effort to look at things in a new way is personal wisdom and guides one’s own life. Burt Nanus suggested that a leader will know a new vision is needed when, 1. There is evidence of confusion about purpose, 2. Employees complain about insufficient challenge, or that work is not fun anymore, 3. The organization loses its competitive edge, 4. The organization is out of tune with trends, 5. Employees lack pride in the organization, 6. People avoid risk, 7. There is a lack of shared progress, 8. There is a hyperactive rumor mill. If it is self-centered, then the vision can be bad; if it transcends self in concern for others then it can be good. For leadership to exist, other people must buy into the leader’s vision. Then it not only affects the leader, but motivates and energizes others. Such a vision is specific enough that it guides the leader, but vague enough that it suggests courses of action, and brings forth the best from others in its ongoing development. Some consider that visionary leadership is made up of four interlocking components—personal vision, organizational vision, future vision, and strategic vision.
VISION AND SPIRITUALITY
Vision is not what you see but how you look at things; it’s not what you think but how you think; it is not that you see the future, but how to respond to the future; it is not that you appreciate community, but how you see others interacting as a community; it is not that you see things clearly but that you look at things in the context of the big picture. Vision is not necessarily having a plan, but having a mind that always plans This kind of visioning energizes workers and gives meaning to their work of sharing in a vision that becomes a communal standard of excellence
SHARED VISION AND SERVANT LEADERSHIP
When a vision eventually comes together, it must be powerful enough to take hold of an organization and its common purpose and goals, to capture people’s individual and common hopes, to challenge and stretch everyone in the organization, to energize professional and discretionary commitment, and to satisfy the hopes and longings of all who share it. A vision is always specific enough that people can grasp it and appreciate its sense of direction, yet vague enough that everyone can find a contribution in it that they can make. However, as already stated, a vision for an organization is only useful if followers buy into it. Moreover, once a vision is defined, it must be redefined continually through the new insights of all members of the organization. Although others continually refocus the vision it is still the community’s vision, and a leader must always be able to articulate it. In other words, a vision is never final but is open to further clarification. Common values find new ways to express themselves. Values are the way individuals and organizations measure the rightness of their direction. Values do not create vision, but they always measure the authenticity of new articulations.
Leaders today must be men and women who can think, reflect, reintegrate, and transform the many aspects of their lives. Leadership is no longer based merely on knowledge, competence, and experience, unless these are linked with reflection that produces alternative ways of thinking and acting. In the past we tended to stress leaders who were doers and achievers not reflective thinkers. Today’s new models of leadership all demand critical reflection, imagination, and an openness to the unknown, the unexpected, and the unexplored. The source of real learning in one’s leadership is within and this implies the importance of reflection. Below are offered four suggestions to help one be more reflective.
STILLNESS: The major preparations for reflective leadership can be viewed as one’s personal contribution in attitudes of stillness, inspiration, concentration, and silence. Each of these is a gift and is also an acquired art that benefits both reflection and leadership. We need to specifically train ourselves in stillness of body. We need to sit still, do nothing and completely relax. For people of religious faith, any of the present techniques for relaxation which help in the acquiring of stillness in the presence of God can be used. This first simple stage should not be passed over. In our present speed-prone age, it can be a real effort. In the long run, it pays high dividends. Linked to this outward relaxed position should be deep and regular breathing. The stillness that reflection and prayer requires is also a fine attitude in daily life and leadership. People who are always rushing here and hurrying there are not noted for the quality of their presence to others, whether colleagues, family, or friends. No one can be consistently still in times of reflection, unless he or she can be still in the presence of others, giving them attention and interest. Stillness is not something that we can turn on for moments of reflection. Rather, it must be very gradually acquired through self- training and sacrifice. This effort to train oneself in stillness and to place oneself in the presence of God is a “prayer of the body.”
INSPIRATION. To facilitate the second step in reflection one needs, throughout daily life, to train oneself in openness to the varied and continual inspirations of the day from wherever they come. To help the development of the genuine spirit of inspiration we need to know ourselves as we are, with the good and weak sides, and express ourselves as we truly feel. If we hide or close ourselves to the unacceptable about ourselves this just becomes a block to our reflection and prayer. We also need to be open to being inspired by others and by the world; and here one need only apply the general principles of dialogue in openness to others and in the signs of the times.
If in times of reflection and prayer and decision-making in leadership we are able to show openness to inspiration, then it will be because we have developed in life this attitude of total attentiveness to the varied inspirations that come personally to us in our hearts, in others, in the world with its history and in daily events. If we have not a listening heart and not trained ourselves in the art of listening, then when a critical time of change and challenge comes it is humanly impossible for us just to switch on to becoming inspired or inspirational.
CONCENTRATION. Thirdly, we must train ourselves to concentrate, then in dealing with others or in discerning institutional direction we will be able to concentrate individually and with others in the challenging moments of life. Here again, we have an act of reflection and prayer which is an art and we can develop it by the way we approach other aspects of our daily leadership life. Therefore, as a remote preparation for reflection and prayer, try to develop concentration.
The ability to concentrate, which is also a common necessity in human growth, is something to be acquired by daily effort. Only short moments are needed, a few minutes while traveling, a view in the city, a scene in the country, a person’s face, a picture, a child—all can be objects of a moment’s concentration. On the other hand, listening intensely for a short while to a piece of music, or just one sound, or a bird, or a person’s voice, or the rustling of leaves—all can open us to concentrate on something we did not perceive before. This is the self training and remote preparation we need for reflection and prayer and a preparation to discover the best in others.
SILENCE IN GOD. The kernel of genuine reflection is silence, and of genuine prayer silence in God. There are several attitudes of daily life which can undoubtedly help and prepare the way for this recollected silence. Awareness to the quality of one’s presence to others and recollection are fundamental. Effort given to this reflective silence is generally more profitable for growth in reflection than is anything else. To these ought to be added a cultivated sense of wonder and astonishment. These qualities are often missing in life today, but if reflective leadership must also include an attitude of openness to the ever newness of others and of organizational growth, we will need a genuine sense of mystery and wonder to appreciate what is always ahead of us, always new, and our growing efforts at concentration will be an aid here. In this connection we need a healthy sense of aloneness, an awareness of our own unfulfillment except through others and in God—in other
words, the attitude of one who is a real searcher.
Above all, one needs patience and a willingness to wait. Sometimes in the reflective moments of a day we try to push ourselves—disliking emptiness, we return to the normal actions of each day at the first sign of “nothing happening.” Those who do wait are generally the ones who can come up with a new insight, can see links with vision and mission, and can see how every member of the group “fits in.” All these above attitudes are also aspects of daily life, and
living through them in daily life can be a preparation for reflection and an enrichment of our leadership skills. Nancy Eggert suggests four means to enter into contemplative experience: 1. Through appreciation of the material world (appreciation). 2. By letting go and letting be (detachment). 3. Through creative breakthroughs (creativity). 4. By means of social justice and compassion (compassion).
A great leader knows when it is time to retire. However, we all know lots of leaders who don’t know when to go, leave space for others, and move into a healthy retirement. So, I wrote this book for a new kind of retiree–including the baby-boomer generation–leaders who seeks to deal with retirement years not as an end of usefulness but as a major period in life with its own challenges that need practical responses and depth of understanding. Christian spirituality refers to the way we life our daily lives in the challenge of faith. Clearly, the years of retirement offer the most important occasion for each of us to respond to the challenge of making a new beginning.
This book is a practical guide for those retirees who are about to retire, or who have recently retired. Filled with the experiences of retirees, it offers anecdotes, thoughtful reflections, helpful insights, and ways to live this important and what-should-be-enjoyable stage of life. Leaders must discover how to approach this period in life–now as much as a third of life for many–with enthusiasm, anticipation, creativity, and enjoyment as the best and blessed time of our lives.
The new outlook that retirees need to have willinlcude the following components.
1. Live in peace and not with the worries of former times.
2. Focus on new attitudes beyond those of the employment years.
3. Look at the enriching opportunities of relaxation and leisure.
4. Keep and eye on creative self-development.
5. Look at life as an opportunity to sharfe wisdom and experience with others.
6. Get the best out of life, not more.
7. Follow the sirection of the Spirit.
8. Maintain wellness, and let the quality of life determine these important years.
THE TRANSITION AND CONVERSION TO SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP
Leaders today must be willing to go through a conversion and become different leaders than they have ever been before. This is a crisis of confidence in what the leader has so far been doing; it is a sense of loss that former successes no longer mean anything; it is the death of past values and the willingness to let them die for they are based on a vision that is too small. The leader who goes through this spiritual experience of passage from a set of old values to a set of new values feels the ground beneath him or her is giving way. He or she grasps that there is more to life than meeting goals and objectives, increasing profits, satisfying shareholders, marketing a successful product or service. People, community, justice, others’ fulfillment, love, and changing the values of society are all more important. All good leaders achieve the former, spiritual leaders also achieve the latter. The transition is a painful conversion, but we desperately need people willing to endure it and participate in the transformation. Leadership must change! We cannot continue with the innumerable failures of recent years. The ashes of previous leadership styles are in the grate, and there is no phoenix to emerge.
The transition through which a good leader passes in becoming a spiritual leader is a dark night. This term, “dark night,” comes from the poetry and commentaries of the Spanish, Christian mystic, John of the Cross, who was also a dynamic and multi-talented organizational leader. The dark night is a stage in spiritual life when one begins to see things in a different way than one ever has before. Sometimes a person cannot see because everything around is dark, but on other occasions a person cannot see because of the brightness of illumination—like standing in the headlights of an on-coming car. “Dark night” for John is the latter experience, and so, for a leader this night can be an illumination of the direction of authentic leadership. The transition to a new level of leadership is an experience of darkness that enables the leader to stop seeing in one way and to start seeing things in a new way. We discover that leadership is not what we thought it was; that leaders do not act in the way we thought they should; that good followers do not react in the ways we thought they would.
These experiences at first shock us, leave us discouraged, and give us a sense of failure in having spent life dedicated to the wrong values. A leader must savor the pain of this loss for he or she must become convinced in the depths of soul that former values are inadequate. For a Christian believer it is God who draws us to a new way of life, fills us with the new values of the vision of promise, and sets us on a new direction in
Spirituality refers to the human effort to become a person in the fullest sense of the word, to develop one’s authentic self. This effort filled experience has been referred to as climbing a ladder to higher levels, following a river as it winds towards its own mature union with the ocean, or as the climbing of a mountain, but most of all as a journey filled with ups and downs but satisfying at the end. Spirituality is the ordering of our lives so that we continually grow in positive ways. It embraces all of life, leaving nothing out, and makes of us all well-balanced, well-rounded, well-integrated human beings, personally, socially, and cosmically. So, spirituality embraces all of life, making sure that every facet of life responds to the inner call to live fully at any given moment. This implies that spirituality is all about relationships, with oneself, with other people, with communities, with the world around us, and with God. It is the ordering of our lives so that the values of the inner self shine forth in all we do. Spirituality is not some non-descript emotional feeling of piety and religious devotion, but it takes as its starting point the concrete circumstances of our daily lives; our lived experience in the world we know. It is a journey in which the best values of humanity help give direction to life and help one advance towards achieving the enrichment of an adult personality. It refers to one’s entire life based upon decisions that show fidelity to the inner motivation of life, and so it is integral to leadership.