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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.

 

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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 spiritual leaders (Sixth)

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.

5 Suggestions:

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.

Some Key Qualities of Spiritual Leadership (Part I)

SPIRITUALITY AND LEADERSHIP

One of the key components of spiritual leadership is dedicated service. The spiritual leader draws on the inner values of his or her life and later makes the choice to serve others by a commitment to leadership. Spiritual leadership begins with an attitude, it is a form of service rather than service being an effective way to lead. It is easier to be a servant and to learn how to lead than it is to lead and then to learn how to serve.

From the very start of leadership one must be ready to live with an honest vulnerability.  The leader recognizes that leadership is a gift and is always aware of his or her own weak and lonely experience of self. He or she knows there is strength in discipline but also in honest vulnerability. Leadership is not a way to power over others but a call to nurture the gifts of others. It means letting go of the desire to be always right, or to always have the answers. Successful leaders who admit their mistakes clearly earn more respect from their followers than do those who unsuccessfully try to hide them.

One quality that followers expect to see in their leaders before all others is inner integrity. Credibility is the foundation for leadership. Followers understand that how a person does something says a lot about his or her values. Leaders must continually ask themselves what grade on trust and credibility other colleagues on an administrative team or followers would give them.

Commitment to example can have a powerfully pervasive influence on an organization, even though it is generally haphazard and unsystematic. Modeling leadership is now viewed as one of the prime responsibilities of anyone in authority. So, acknowledge mistakes, avoid criticizing others, work hard and smart, refrain from office politics, stand up for principles you believe in, be open minded, diplomatic, positive in your attitudes, energetic in your work, a team player, and be enthusiastic, respectful of workers, and never become comfortable in your job.

An important complement to example is coaching and guiding participation. This kind of leader can identify the strengths of others and let go of his or her own position in favor of someone else’s. Such a leader can rejoice in other people’s growth in leadership rather than be  threatened by it? Such a leader has the patience to wait for others to learn from example.

A further key component of quality leadership is the ability to create a climate of mutual trust. Without this an organization is filled with suspicion and vision is lost. A leader needs to treat everyone graciously and maintain trust with those above him or her and those below; at one time a leader and at another a follower, he or she enriches the organization with increased trust levels.

Influencing others to be visionaries is a part of the selfless dedication of a spiritual leader. This requires of the leader that he or she be present to others, giving time and effort to facilitating the surfacing of their vision, and also that he or she has the ability to clearly articulate a credible vision for the future, and to enthusiastically motivate others to join in that shared goal.

Leadership and integrity

The Need of 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.

So, leadership needs to be an expression of a well developed and defined sense of vocational integrity. 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.