Saturday, 19 May 2012

Spiritual Foundations of Leadership

I "met" Jane C. Nebelung through the social networking site Linkedin.I had posted therein a topic for discussion on the group called "Leadership Thinktank" in December , 2010.The topic was "Is there any relationship between Leadership and capacity to love?" The discussion among members from all over the world is still going on , continuing for about 18 months,with more than 5500 comments already made so far .Many of the members requested me , and some even reminded me of my responsibility to moderate the discussion and bring it to a conclusion .But something deep inside me always told me that the discussion is not yet over , and the best is yet to come .So , the discussion continues , with many very learned and profound contributions , and these took the discussion to very high planes , at times .Lucira Jane C. Nebelung is one such great and serious contributor to the discussion .While I was following , understanding and enjoying comments made by many of the members , I was particularly struck by the note of authenticity in the comments of Lucira Jane .She was kind to send me a copy of her book"Leadership in Service to Life:We are Divine , Our Essence is Love" , published by WingSpan Press,Livermore, CA in 2007.
It is a very precise and well written book of 84 pages .The book is "intentionally brief", as the author says.I read it thrice over, reflecting and contemplating on each chapter.Jane has a background in Industrial Organizational Psychology .She has been influenced, among others, by Meg Wheatley's book "Leadership and the New Science" published in 1992.
Jane says that successful business leadership is based on universal spiritual principles.The way to lead , even in business , is to understand ,adopt and practice spiritual principles in life and work.Life and leadership have spiritual foundation, meaning and perspective.

What Jane has propounded is not a new theory of business management .All the business management practices since the 1950s, like Participative Management,Empowerment ,Learning Organizations, Vision, Values are, by and large, correct .They do improve the work performance and profitability.But the literature does not tell us explicitly why these practices are successful.Jane tells us that they are successful because they nurture our divinity or spirituality. For example,At the foundation of creating a learning organization(The Fifth Discipline by Peter M. Senge), is our need to nurture our spiritual nature .It not only serves life , it brings profits too .But profit is not the main purpose of such an organization .The main purpose is to serve life and to nurture spirituality in us .This incidentally,also takes care of the question whether it is possible to live ethically in business.If we accept and practice this in our life , then all of us are leaders in the path of tranforming humanity.
The three Universal truths governing life, according to Jane, are:
1.Oneness.We are One , intimately connected with all of creation and interdependent .We must honour our oneness.What we do to others , we do to ourselves.
2.Uniqueness.We are each a unique manifestation of Spirit.
3.Free Will .We have freedom to create life and to choose our experiences.We are responsible for what we do.Do we choose to identify ourselves with ego and body , or do we identify with our divinity along with our ego?We create our separate realities with our ego.Actually , there is only one reality.

Every other spiritual concept or practice is a derivative of the three universal principles or truths of oneness , uniqueness and free will .These three truths are a part of our divine nature.Our essence is love.
Each aspect of our divine nature corresponds to a set of psychological needs.These needs in turn lead us to a certain area of organizational practice , which in turn takes us to be business leaders in our chosen field.
The needs of connection and participation , to be part of something larger than ourselves flow from our oneness.The corresponding areas of organizational practice are strategy, branding values, organizational design , governance and communication .The leadership practices it leads to are equality and shared power, active participation, broad and open dialogue.

The needs of purpose and meaning, to bring value and benefit to others, to enhance life flow from our uniqueness, and take us to purpose and mission of the organization .The leadership practices it takes us to are clarity of organizational identity and clarity of individual purpose and contribution .

The needs of self determination and choice flow from free will .These takes us to the area of performance contribution and enhancement, planning and monitoring in the organization .The leadership practices it takes us to are choosing our career progression, feedback from work and self awareness , making us focused on stewardship.
Jane has also identified two more aspects of divine nature , though they are very much parts of oneness,uniqueness and free will .But because of their importance , these have been treated independently as parts of divine nature .These are :
4.Return to Source.
5.Unconditional , selfless Love .We need to generate and expand love that is.
The needs of growth and creativity, to expand who we know ourselves to be , flow from our divine nature which wants to return to source.The area of organizational practice to which it takes us are engagement and development .The leadership practices it leads us to are expanding strengths,, personal experience with reflection, non-judgmental coaching and building collective wisdom .

The needs of respect, acceptance, appreciation,compassion and love flow from divine nature of selfless love.It is acknowledging that we are one.We do not project our beliefs and emotions onto others' experiences. .Areas of organizational practice it leads to are leadership , participation and shared rewards.Leadership practices it takes us to are using strengths to fulfill purpose, affirming contribution and purpose.
Purpose of a corporation historically , has been to serve others(both customers and employees.).Profit is still important as an outcome , but it is not the purpose.Nurturing our divinity and serving life is the root cause of business success.This also results in financial abundance.When in doubt about a certain action , ask yourself:"Does this serve life?" If yes , then do it.In a way , Jane expands on the concept of servant leadership.Our leadership has to respect the three laws of life , that we are one , we are unique and we have free will .Change management is an oxymoron because we cannot control whether others choose to change.Organizational change requires free will , oneness and uniqueness.
When we talk about spirituality , most of the academics and thinkers consider it not based on evidence , and therefore avoidable .To be fair , there are certain concepts in spirituality literature , which can be challenged by anybody wanting rigorous laboratory research.I am not sure if I agree with the concept of Chakras as also of Spiral Dynamics of Ken Wilbur , quoted in chapter 3"our divinity is hardwired into our humanity"of the book .But it in no way diminishes the truth of the basic paradigm of the book that there are spiritual foundations of leadership in service to life .