I would like to draw your attention to this new printing of my book, The One Thing Necessary: The Transforming Power of Christian Love, published by ACTA Publications (www.actapublications.com). Many writers today speak about the importance of love in leadership development, and I hope you might find this helpful. This book is available from ACTA or from amazon.com.
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 his own experiences to explain what love is, how we find it, and how it can change the world. Each of the seven chapters contains several quotes and focus points at the beginning and provocative questions at the end for reflection or discussion by adult religious education and bible study groups.
“This book is all about love—and love as the one thing necessary. It is most certainly not about easy love or cheap grace. It is about the transforming power of Christian love. It is not only challenging but disturbing, a book written with conviction and passion.”
“[Doohan’s] artful gathering and arranging of ideas reminds one of the impact of a gigantic bouquet of mixed flowers chosen individually and with great care.”
“Would that we heard more about this in our churches and religious discussions because, “this transforming power of Christian love will save the world” (p. 93).
- Take courage in your pursuit of spiritual leadership.
I want to encourage the fainthearted in their pursuit of spiritual leadership. I am convinced that the road to leadership greatness passes through spiritual renewal. I urge each of you readers to become the leader you are called to be. Only a small percentage will be interested because of the addictions to power, status, and money that attract and hinder so many in their pursuit of leadership greatness. But there are others, and I would like to tap the potential of these leaders to be great. What we need to acknowledge from the outset is great leaders always pass through the challenging experience of conversion. My hope is to help you develop a process that leads to personal transformation and thus enables you to become a great leader. Great leaders are not born, they gradually grow and mature into who they are capable of being for the benefit of others. Ordinary people can become great leaders; we must let the best rise to the top of leadership.
Leadership is a work of the heart, a courageous heart. In this book’s approach, a leader is motivated by a vision of hope. Since leadership is a vocation, the leader is not struggling to move forward, but he or she is being drawn forward by something or someone greater than himself of herself. So, even the fainthearted can take courage and move with confidence, for leadership is not what you do but what God is doing in and through you. The best leaders are not always the most knowledgeable or talented, but those who are open-hearted, open-minded, and receptive to the call and challenge of God; those who let themselves be guided and directed for the good of others. These leaders can influence others as far as is needed, can motivate others to leadership, are happy to disappear from the scene and give credit to others, and can then reappear in a new venture to lead in a new way.
So often today, leaders are unknown and unsung heroes, simple people with big hearts. They begin their work locally and gradually have an impact on large sections of society. Many are fainthearted and prefer the hidden life. Sometimes they stay there and effect local change, sometimes they are recognized and brought into public view and appreciation. Even television channels celebrate these gifts to community service. So to each of you, reading this book, even if at times you feel lost, I say you can become a better leader, you can become the leader you long to be. May this book challenge you to evaluate all aspects of your leadership and courageously move in the direction of growth and maturity.
How to Become a Great Spiritual Leader: Ten Steps and a Hundred Suggestions
This is a book for daily reflection. It has a single focus—how to become a great spiritual leader. It is a book on the spirituality of a leader’s personal life. It presumes that leadership is a vocation, and that it results from an inner transformation. The book proposes ten steps that individuals can take to enable this process of transformation, and a hundred suggestions to make this transformation real and lasting. It is a unique book in the literature on leadership. This book is a challenge to think about leadership in a new way. People who follow these steps will give the world something to think about regarding what leadership ought to be and can be.
1. Rediscover great leadership.
2. Emphasize remote preparation
3. Set a new direction for your leadership
4. Accept your vocation of leadership
5. Implement your call in a vision
6. Live your vision with courage and perseverance
7. Establish supports for your spiritual leadership
8. Evaluate your leadership: an artist’s challenge
9. Work with your followers-disciples.
10. Accept ten personal reflections
This book is the third in a series on leadership. The first, Spiritual Leadership: The Quest for Integrity gave the foundations of leadership today. The second, Courageous Hope: The Call of Leadership, gave the contemporary characteristics and qualities of leadership. This third book focuses on the spirituality of the leader.
Leonard Doohan’s books on leadership have been described as “highly readable,” “profound and caring,” “clear and challenging,” “a profound guidebook for leaders of the future,” “beyond or better beneath many current volumes,” “elegant, powerful, forthright.” Commentators have said “I highly recommend,” “He strengthens our resolve,” “Read every word,” “He restores our hope,” “Learn how to this kind of leader.”
This book is available from amazon.com
6. UNLOCK THE POTENTIALS OF THE HEART
The ideal human community is characterized by love. When people know they are loved they respond with dedication and give of their best. If a leader treats followers negatively, he or she will receive diminishing returns from followers. A good leader of hope shows everyone respect, and they know he or she speaks from the heart. Followers must find trust, honesty, and integrity in their leaders, and leaders must show respect for the dignity and competence of followers by trusting them, empowering them, providing significant responsibilities, giving teams authority, searching for consensus, providing an enjoyable working environment, establishing participative structures, and sharing power. Caring needs to be practical; the leader treats others with politeness, gentleness, candor, graciousness, and sensitivity. A good spiritual leader dedicated to servant leadeship appreciates people, and they know it.
There is a tendency to underestimate the importance of affective and emotional aspects of spiritual leadership. Followers need to know that a leader is there for them. The leader must make sure everyone with whom he or she works knows he or she is not only respected, but also loved.
Jesus called his followers “disciples,” until towards the end of his ministry when he said, “I do not call you servants any longer, . . . but I have called you friends” ( John 15:15). The evangelist said, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1
It is important that we all do everything for each other, the firm, customers, and stakeholders with loving commitment.
1. Examine your relationships with your workers and ask yourself if they like you?
2. Be sure that when people leave your presence they know they are loved.
3. Act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with your God.
4. Review with your workers whether the working environment is enjoyable.
5. Think of new ways to show your trust to those with whom you work.
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.
Several suggested practices for a spiritual leader
In the next couple of weeks I would like to offer several practices for anyone who wishes to become a spiritual leader. You can call them practices or even attitudes that result from frequently repeating these practices. These set aside an individual as possibly a great leader. The eight suggestions are the following:
1. MOURN LEADERSHIP’S FAILURES.
2. APPRECIATE WHAT LIES BEYOND NORMAL HORIZONS.
3. THINK, MEDITATE, CONTEMPLATE.
4. ASK QUESTIONS NOONE ELSE DOES.
5. TEACH A NEW UNDERSTANDING OF COMMITMENT.
6. UNLOCK THE POTENTIALS OF THE HEART.
7. CREATE INTERRUPTIONS.
8. MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO MOTIVATE THEMSELVES.
Today we consider just the first one:
1. MOURN LEADERSHIP’S FAILURES
It is frequently heartbreaking to follow the daily news. So many problems have lasted for decades, they are well-known, but deliberately left unaddressed because leaders cannot or will not confront them. We live in a culture of greed, clinging to power, and arrogance. Servant leaders see these as the opposite of what they want to embody. We are immersed in malfunctioning and sick leadership, and the sickness is contagious. When we think about mourning we refer to something that pains us to think about it; it is a loss that tears at our hearts; it is a pain that stays with us; you just wish things were different and what happened never occurred. This is how a servant leader responds to today’s failures.
The basic steps in mourning leadership’s failures are: 1. Acknowledge the failures. 2. Think about and even savor the harm bad leadership has done. 3. Disassociate yourself from it. 4. Examine your own life for traces of failures and get rid of them. 5. Express the sorrow of your heart for the harm and injustice done to others. 6. Move on with changed attitudes or move away from the corrupt structure in which you have found yourself.
1. As leaders, never support greedy, selfish, unethical leaders.
2. Beware of the company you keep, and stay away from people whose values you despise and whose leadership you do not wish to imitate.
3. Never accept promotion in your leadership if you must prostitute your values to get it.
4. Every day spend some time thinking about those who suffer because of failed leadership.
5. Remind yourself often of your own failures as leaders and lament and mourn them.
NEW EMPHASIS ON SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP
The common thread found in the proliferation of leadership studies today is that leadership is not leadership in the way we have typically understood it. . . . Leadership is no longer the result of skills but of inner values, of heart and or spirit. (Spiritual Leadership: The Quest for Integrity (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2007), 35.