Leadership Spirituality

There are two companies in City A: Profit Company and Value Company. In terms of prestige and scale, Profit Company has it all. It’s a dream company for new professionals. However, its employees only last for months or, worse, a week.

On the other hand, Value Company is much smaller than the former. But it’s boasting when it comes to long-tenured employees

The secret? It’s leadership values. Value Company functions efficiently through spirituality. Spirituality makes it a center of growth, appreciation, empathy, and humility, which makes it an ideal workplace for its employees.

In this article, you will learn how to become an effective leader who leads a strong and inspired team established on spirituality.

What is Spirituality at Work?

In Petchsawang and Duchon’s study in 2009, workplace spirituality is defined as having compassion toward others, attaining a mindful inner consciousness in pursuit of meaningful work, and achieving transcendence.

To make it simple, spirituality at work is about team members finding value, meaning, and motivation in their work beyond performance and paychecks. It is about finding oneness and a sense of belongingness in an organization.

Why is Spirituality Important in an Organization?

Before anything else, it’s essential to have a firm grasp on spirituality first.

According to Louise Delagran, it is a personal experience where you create a system of personal beliefs while searching for your life’s purpose. It gives you something more significant than the material world can offer.

Spirituality helps an individual see life positively and develop immunity against damaging external factors.

A spiritual person can connect with their higher self and gain clarity in life. They also don’t need external sources to feel complete, as they are already at peace within. 

If you notice, spirituality emphasizes life’s purpose and something more significant than the material world, which is most sought after by humanity. And an organization can only stand the test of time if it can give these two things.

Yes, the salary offered and the prestige of a company also influence the job tenure of its employees. However, what makes employees stay longer aren’t superficial things but the value they could get from an institution.

These include personal growth, skills development, appreciation, work-life balance, transparency, trust, and so on.

Just as David Ballard, the assistant executive director for applied psychology at the American Psychological Association, said, benefits are no longer efficient for a company’s workforce to remain engaged and competitive.

What matters most now is how employees connect to the organization and gain positive work experiences that contribute to a rich and fulfilling life.

Furthermore, Egbert Schram from Forbes explained that a robust organizational culture ensures efficiency and speed between employees, their work, and the outside world.

It’s similar to a successful marriage, where there’s optimal communication and things smoothly flow.

Spirituality creates a positive work environment that inspires and uplifts employees, increasing job productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction.

That said, employees do not need companies that just pay them money. What they need are companies that make them feel human, fulfilled, and appreciated. 

This also applies to small groups and organizations. You must holistically consider the people under your guidance and care. 

Start with yourself to create a solid team that can work despite all the odds.

What is Spiritual Leadership?

You don’t have to be religious to be a spiritual leader.  According to Tim Barnett, spiritual leaders understand the significance of followers finding meaning in their work— demonstrating a genuine concern for the whole person, not just the employee.

Leaders who incorporate spirituality motivate their followers to understand their inner selves and create a work environment that fosters a sense of meaning.

To establish spiritual leadership, you must ensure significant interconnectedness among your team members and apply principles and spiritual values in your workplace.

Your first step is to ask these essential questions when planning to incorporate spirituality into your leadership methods and organizational culture. 

  1. Who are we as an organization, department, or work team?
  2. Is our work vital and worthy? What are our aspirations and purpose?
  3. What are our ethical principles and values?
  4. What will be our legacy, and how can we leave our mark?

Tim Barnett also added that most people spend a significant amount of time with their co-workers than anybody or anywhere else. It is common to have good friendships, courtships, and marriages among co-workers nowadays.

From this, you can see how today’s modern workplace is not just where employees work. 

Workplaces also serve as spots where employees form good friendships, usually socialize, and indulge in an attempt to find meaning and fulfillment.

As their leader, you must create a workplace that cultivates your employees’ holistic well-being and focuses on holistic approaches emphasizing empathy, service, compassion, encouragement, and humility.

You must be a follower and a servant instead of a tyrant. Ensure to accommodate your followers’ needs and well-being first, not just what will satisfy your self-interest.

Always remember that a strong bond and healthy communication forge loyalty. Not fear and materialistic incentives.

Characteristics of an Effective Spiritual Leader

Your job background, accomplishments, and credentials only partially make you an effective leader. Effective leadership is about your mentality, how you carry yourself, and how you treat your team members.

According to Indeed and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), here are the traits that make you an influential spiritual leader.

1. You have integrity.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, integrity is the supreme quality of leadership. Real success is possible with integrity, whether in a section gang, a football game, an army, or an office. 

Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching. 

CCL states that a leader with integrity is trustworthy, honest, reliable, and accountable. They practice what they preach, own up to their words, and act accordingly.

To be a leader with integrity, you must always practice honesty with your responsibility. Own your mistakes, and do not hide or blame them on others. Give credit, and learn to appreciate your team members’ efforts.

2. You are transparent.

According to Indeed, your team is likely to trust you if you’re transparent and encourage open communication in the workplace.

You must be open about the direction of your organization, its goals, and the challenges it faces.

Provide your team members with a clear understanding of their role in the workplace and how they can contribute to the organization’s success.

Doing this shows your team members that they matter and are appreciated. You also increase productivity and solidarity in your workplace.

3. You know how to delegate effectively.

You must know how to delegate effectively to increase your company’s productivity and enhance your team members’ skills, according to CCL.

Delegating tasks enables your organization to utilize time efficiently and allows team members to develop a sense of autonomy. You can also ask for your team’s suggestions and opinions about the tasks and properly allocate them to the right people.

And, of course, as an effective leader, you must give your team constructive feedback and encourage them to do their best on their team.

4. You communicate with your team members.

By communicating, we don’t mean simply giving tasks and orders to your employees. What we mean by communicating here are casual, meaningful conversations beyond work.

BetterUp reported that workplace communication is crucial because it boosts the members’ morale, productivity, satisfaction, and engagement.

Communication is also an important component of cooperation and collaboration as it drives better results for the team.

Nobody wants a stiff and suffocating leader. A simple hi and how are you (healthy greetings) will work wonders in your team.

CCL also recommended practicing effective communication skills to ensure communication is clear in the workplace. 

5. You empower your team members.

Another part of becoming an effective leader is to inspire your team members. To empower each of your team members, you must show them respect, form strong connections with them, and encourage them to grow and find solutions together.

Empowering your team members makes them feel supported and appreciated. It builds their self-esteem and belief in their abilities.

At the same time, empowering your team strengthens your leadership skills, which connects you to your higher self. The higher self is always loving, open, and inspiring.

Always take in mind that empowered employees are happy employees. And happy employees mean a successful organization.

6. You show gratitude.

The best leaders are fearless in showing their gratitude in the workplace. It’s simple to say thank you and show our appreciation, yet why is it not practiced in workplaces often?

A study by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School and Wharton showed that only 15 percent of people regularly say thank you in their workplace. Their study also found that 35 percent of employees say their managers never thanked them.

Compared to other situations and contexts, there’s a gratitude gap in workplaces. 

As a leader, you must take the first step to bridge the gratitude gap in your organization. Remember to say thank you to all of your team members, even for their smallest tasks. Recognize their success and contribution to the team.

By setting an example, you’ll be able to create a workplace that is beaming with gratitude and appreciation.

Saying thank you and showing appreciation may seem simple, but they can bring profound changes to your workplace.

Associate Professor Ryan Fehr from the University of Washington, Seattle, found that 66 percent of employees are likely to leave their job if they don’t feel appreciated.

On the other hand, a Glassdoor Survey showed that 81 percent of employees are willing to work harder when their employers show appreciation.

7. You show respect to your team members.

CCL also stated that you have to ensure a culture of respect in your workplace. And it starts with you as the leader.

Showing respect is not all about the absence of disobedience. It also includes listening, being open to your team members, and respecting their boundaries.

Respect reduces stress and anxiety in the workplace. It prevents tension from happening and strengthens team solidarity.

CCL added that it could be challenging for leaders to create and maintain respectful relationships among different groups and individuals in their team, but effective collaborations across boundaries are the key here.

8. You nurture empathy in the workplace.

According to CCL, empathy in a workplace means that team members can create genuine, empathetic connections with one another, which strengthens their relationship and increases their performance.

Empathy in the workplace promotes productivity and support. A study conducted by Catalyst showed that empathy boosts innovation, employee engagement, retention, belongingness, and work-life balance.

If you noticed, the traits we discussed are more on how you’ll empower and boost your team’s morale than on the technical aspects of becoming a leader.

According to Tim Barnett,  spirituality in leadership implies emphasizing less formal position power and more on people empowerment. It aims to develop employees holistically. 

And to do this, you must promote diversity, transformation, inspiration, and collaboration in the team.

How to Incorporate Spiritual Leadership in the Workplace

According to Jessie Cohen from WeWork, spirituality lies at the core of everything we do. It involves our commitment to our value system and is fundamental in nurturing the value system of your personal life and work.

The following suggests how you can incorporate spirituality in your workplace, according to Kelly Byrnes from Forbes.

1. Apply a value system to your work.

Kelly Byrnes said employees will not always bring their best to work every day. But this can change if they know how their work matters.

It is important to let your team members see the big picture. Let them feel their work’s importance, especially their organizational roles.

For instance, your team works in the creative department. Sometimes it’s inevitable for team members to lose motivation, which might affect your team’s productivity.

But if you let them know how their creative works bring a smile to people and how they make others’ dreams possible, you inspire team members to always do their best at work.

2. Genuinely know your team members.

What makes company relations stronger is the connection among its members. 

Genuinely know your team members. If possible, and more importantly, with consent, ask them about their preferred work styles, career goals, visions, and aspirations.

By knowing them well, you can genuinely care for and assist them in the workplace. You will also know what leadership methods work for them. And you will be able to provide them with the best opportunities to reach their career goals.

You might say this seems tedious to do, but the promise here is deeper trust and efficient collaboration in the workplace.

3. Create a workplace of kindness.

Lead by example, always treat others well and make kindness a culture in your workplace. Show your team members that you value them and that their well-being is prioritized.

Encouraging kindness in the workplace works through simple gestures of appreciation, showing support, recognition, and motivation.

Solving problems is easy, but restoring broken self-esteem and trust is not. Always watch your words and temper, even if your team members make huge mistakes.

Instead of harsh criticisms, be constructive and offer help on how you can solve problems together. 

But of course, you must know how to balance being firm and loose with your team members.

4. Be more of a giver.

Know the impact of your organization on the world. As much as you gain, ensure that you give back.

Examples of giving back are:

  • Establishing environmentally friendly policies in your company.
  • Doing charity work.
  • Sponsoring innovative projects.
  • Providing scholarships for disadvantaged students.

There are plenty of ways to give back to the world; just choose what aligns with your company’s values and principles.

The Benefits of Spirituality in Leadership

Big Self School explains that cultivating spirituality in the workplace benefits everyone. It’s a win-win situation that benefits the employees, leaders, and organizations. Here are the benefits of incorporating spirituality in your leadership.

1. Spirituality increases job satisfaction.

In the study by Hassan et al. in 2016, workplace spirituality is positively correlated to employee satisfaction and trust.

This creates a domino effect where happy employees accomplish their collective tasks efficiently. And with few mistakes, there’s increased productivity, resulting in high client satisfaction.

2. Spirituality promotes individual growth and fulfillment.

According to Big Self School, spiritual workplaces are more open to accepting employee opinions and expressions. 

Such workplaces value their employees’ ideas, allowing them to be more confident about themselves, discover their potential, and boost their sense of fulfillment.

Employees who feel more comfortable about their environment decrease their risk of depression, stress, burnout, and anxiety.

3. Spirituality promotes solidarity in the workplace.

Competitive work environments tend to drain their employees, leading to burnout and other physical and mental health issues.

On the other hand, a workplace established in spirituality promotes healthy collaboration and partnership among team members, which makes it ideal for them to work efficiently and comfortably. 

4. Spirituality enhances creativity.

Workplace stress and pressure can kill your team members’ creativity; it’s crucial to provide support to your team members.

Always make them feel heard, give them psychological safety, and, most importantly, make them feel you are with them throughout a project.

Final Thoughts

Workplace spirituality is a perfect safety net for employees of the 21st century. With harmful external factors threatening our overall wellness, workplaces must become sanctuaries promoting individual uniqueness and identity.

As a spiritual leader, you must aspire to provide a place of value for your team members. 

The key here is to guide them in finding meaning in their work and discovering their truest potential.

Work first on yourself and slowly incorporate a robust culture of spirituality in your workplace. In no time, you will see how your team evolved into something stronger than any challenges you can face.

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