Category Archives: Leadership

Does corporate leadership need a dose of spiritual leadership?

The increasing reports of unethical practices and scant recognition of the moral obligation to the client and consumer by companies, corporations and individuals at the local and global level begs the question- is damage to the reputation of the corporation enough to discourage executives from their bottom line and shareholder focus, and steer them to doing what is right, moral and ethical?

Are the governance and risk management systems in companies and corporations adequate to prevent fraud, unethical conduct, immoral behaviours, disregard of consumer rights, or do they encourage a winner takes all attitude and a singular focus on return to shareholders with minimal collateral damage?

What is the deterrent to such unacceptable behaviour?

In a world where return on investment, increased profit margins, attaining ever stringent and upward driven KPI’s,  and the need to be supreme leaders in the business, executives and leaders are at times in the very uncomfortable position of examining their consciences and making tough decisions on doing what is right for the company versus what is right for the common good of society at large.

Working on the development of an executive leadership program within a global faith based community organisation has led me to consider the merits of elements of spiritual leadership and the impact it could have on the development of leaders in the corporate world.

The growth of leadership models and concepts including ethical leadership, authentic leadership, conscious leadership, follow-ship, etc. all point to the increasing search for leadership with a conscience.

Spiritual leadership starts from the concept of doing what is right, having moral and ethical values, having a strong conscience and believing in the universality of what is good and inherently right for people and society.

Whilst spiritual leadership looks at an almighty being for guidance, corporate leadership should strive to think of what the universe laws of conducting ethical and moral business for the benefit of society are, and how they will conduct their businesses with this at the forefront of decision making.

Just as spiritual leadership is looking at corporate leadership for sharpening their business skills, corporate leadership has a lot to learn from spiritual leadership as that may be the only deterrent to corporate greed and unethical practices.

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Is leadership a lonely journey?

Leaders are often driven by high ideals such as equality and justice for all, fairness, the thought of a better world, and raising the bar for the impoverished and disadvantaged – visions of a world that only the strong-willed are able to contemplate and do something about.

Often the fruits of their effort come years after they embark on the journey. Some, like J.F.Kennedy (man landing on the moon) and Martin Luther King (I have a dream), do not live to see the realisation of their pursuits.

Others like Mahatma Gandhi (independence for India), Nelson Mandela (end of apartheid in South Africa), Mother Theresa (serving the poor and destitute), Steve Jobs (launch of the iPhone), Bill Gates (launch of Microsoft, launch of the William H. Gates Foundation), Richard Branson (launch of Virgin Airlines) live to see their dreams come true – years after the painful and lonely journey commenced.

It is hard to imagine that these leaders did not have doubts at times, and despair at other times, and indeed loneliness at the thought of continuing on the path of leadership. The dark clouds of anxiety may have at times seemed insurmountable.

What appears to get leaders over the line is that whilst they may have times of doubt and indeed anxiety, these moments are overcome by their supreme belief in the cause, their drive and faith in humanity.

Leaders may be lonely, but they are not alone.

They are boosted by followers and other leaders who have enormous faith and belief in them, and nudge them along, provide moral support and energy for them to continue.

They are driven by the purpose and know why they must continue.

They create other leaders as a result of their passion.

At times, they may not know how to realise the dream, but they inspire others to provide the momentum, drive, social networks, solutions and numbers for the change to occur.

True leaders display qualities such as:

  • Tenacity
  • Resilience
  • Faith in humanity
  • Selflessness
  • Drive and passion

They do not give up. They believe in the cause so much that they are willing to sacrifice themselves and indeed many have done so.

Leaders allow us to dream of a better future, but they go much further and make the dream come true.

So do not be overcome by obstacles. Leaders find ways to surmount them.

Leaders may be lonely, but they certainly are not alone.