I met a wonderful pragmatist on a programme I ran recently. He questioned the concept of ‘spirituality’ – both on its own and its purpose as part of the leadership development. It’s not the first time and hasn’t only been questioned by the pragmatists I work with.

It’s a good question, so I thought I’d enjoy getting curious myself and pen down some thoughts and feelings.

What part does spirituality play in our leadership? Is it playing a part even if we don’t think we’re spiritual?

As anyone who works with us knows, being purposeful and chasing fulfilment is the platform of all the work we do. It’s from this platform that we create bespoke interventions which inspire and provide energy for growth. Working with this requires we engage broadly, yet also sometimes deeply with people’s sense of self. Spirituality can be a layer. Even if not fully developed, nor consciously embraced, our spiritual self operates like an internal signpost, guiding how we’re feeling, behaving and connecting to others and therefore is essential in leadership development.

What is it?

I’ll start with what it isn’t. It can be, although in many cases like mine isn’t, a religious alignment and commitment. It’s easy to see them as the same, as maybe religion offers exactly what other spiritual avenues provide.

So, what is it?

Answering emotionally, I think it’s the physical sensations experienced when a deep, meaningful quality within you is awakened. You feel it when you’re grounded, when the essence of you is ignited by the interplay with your environment. I like to think of it as that immersive place where you hang out freely.

Answering cognitively, I’ve created a more rational response (by drawing upon dictionary definitions and feedback from the many clients and programme participants I’ve had the pleasure of working with). Are you familiar with the expression “That’s the spirit?”  Or it’s close relation, “That’s not the spirit!”? It’s a common expression and is referring to the part of a person at the seat of their beliefs and values. Our spiritual layer is that layer pertaining to our “spirit”, which when we’re conscious of it, is the principle quality that drives who we choose to be (free of internal and external rules and pressures.)

When we’re focusing in on our leadership we’re often invited to get conscious of the impact that our style, presence, habits and context may be having on our ability to be in service of others and our team, or organisation, on a day to day basis.

After reading this blog post, I invite people to consider their spiritual self (only if they want to) and get conscious of that as an equally powerful driver and anchor for leadership. What impact is that having? Moreover, of course, there is reciprocity at play here, is your leadership enabling or restraining your spiritual layer? For many, the way they’re operating is in fact limiting the expression of this core principle quality. I meet many whose development and thus what they can offer their teams, is eventually capped at the level of the perceived organisational boundaries, a key tension and part of their consciousness we can work with.

I believe your spirituality is a wonderful area of exploration, around which I have much to learn. For me and many others it’s quite an indulgent past time, and for our clients, if they wish to go there, it’s an unexpected platform for growth and leadership development.

Like everything, the more we share the more we learn about spirituality so please post and share your feelings and thoughts.


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