The Spiritual Core of Leadership

Does leadership have a spiritual core? According to a new research study of developing ethical leaders, the answer is yes. If fact this evolutionary spiritual core may have everything to do with leadership. While modern perspectives have sought to divorce spirituality from the earthly realms, we see that, as we develop our consciousness, the wisdom and compassion of our spiritual life come right to the center and influence everything we do.

In her remarkable study, Marie Legault examined the experiences of leaders operating at post-conventional levels of development, ranging from Individualist to Unitive on the Leadership Development Framework, as described by Susanne Cook-Greuter. These are leaders who have developed beyond typical levels, expanding the breadth and complexity of perspective with which they see and work in the world. (Ms. Legault’s research will be posted on her web site later this spring and we will let you know as it becomes available.)

What she discovered were seven key themes of post-conventional ethical leadership, four of which particularly suggest that, as we develop, a spiritual, developmental core influences everything we do.

Legault found that late-stage ethically-oriented leaders operate from a spiritual center, which is experienced as a heartfelt embodiment of love and service. An orientation to spiritual practice is central. Furthermore, these leaders have come to operate from this realization of compassion and wisdom as a central theme of their leadership. These leaders integrate heart and mind and see their work as an inquiry and a meditation.

It appears, however, that these leaders also grapple deeply with the gap between the insights that this spiritual core reveals and current reality, both in themselves and in the world. Leault’s study found that these leaders have “an innate desire for and commitment to continuous development” and seek to align their working conditions with their values.

These themes point to some of the core conclusions of our experience: that stepping into the heart of conscious leadership means discovering and learning to live a life of the evolving self and world, informed by our deepest spiritual understandings and expressed as service in the world.

In the Heart of Conscious Leadership, we initiate ourselves into a deep experience of this understanding and learn core practices that help us to embody it in our life. In GTC, we engage in a committed journey to embodying this spiritual core and expressing it in all aspects of our life and leadership. Regardless of where we are and from whom we seek support, we are heading towards a deeper expression of our leadership and an expression of a more beautiful, whole, and thriving world, even if the path takes its twist and turns along the way.