The Spiritual Leader’s Task to Maintain the Dream

The Sky's the Limit

The task of the spiritual leader is to serve others in the best and worst of times. Such a leader must be a person of integrity whom followers see as a person of credibility.

They expect such a leader to consistently maintain a climate of mutual trust and call the organization to an ongoing conversion to its vision.

A Grander Vision

But, vision is not something possessed by a minority in the organization, nor is it the exclusive responsibility of central administration. Rather, it belongs to everyone within an organization and all have something to contribute.  If the vision is to be relevant to changing times, it will mean skillfully and responsibly interpreting the vision.

At times, organizations have managers who live in arrogant isolation, failing to see the need for change in themselves and in their organizations. Such managers lack long-term commitment and become obstacles to organizational change and transformation.

Their days as leaders are numbered, since it is the essential task of leadership to produce change, whether it be personal, community, or organizational.

But to see things that others do not see, and then facilitate the required change, is an eventual component of leadership.

For leadership is the restless pursuit of what lies ahead.

Being Proactive

Reacting to changes that afflict an organization is not enough. Introducing change wherever needed, he or she carefully selects the direction that change needs to take. Effective leaders do more than react to what hits them, rather they proactively introduce changes some of which become the breakthroughs that lead to great organizations.

Part of a spiritual leader’s calling is to present vision so that it becomes the source of a dream that attracts others.

One’s scope as a leader has widened, giving one a new freedom to be what one has always dreamed of being and at the same time, little by little, to also help others to dream. When we seem to live with global burnout and people are depressed with their leaders, institutions, and hopes for the future, maintaining a dream is more important than ever.

The Power of The Dream

Great leaders use the power of the dream. The dream a spiritual leader promotes is that people can achieve personal fulfillment and can build community together. Working together in dialogue, collaboration, and dynamic relationships, we can enrich each other and in synergy achieve more together than as separate parts.

We can dream of uniting work and spirituality, believing we can do good while working well, and thus that we can contribute to the common good. In contemporary organizations with their tensions and pressures, a leader can still foster high morale.

The dream reminds us that all people are important for who they are and not for the kind of work they do.

A leader can create an environment that is conducive to human growth and spiritual maturity.

Drawing Others to the Dream

It is the leader’s task to draw others to the dream. This includes building positive attitudes from inside the organization and not being put off by inevitable criticisms. It starts by challenging old ways and showing the benefits of change and transformation.

A leader does this by sharing information and insights, and by raising issues no one else does.

It means sharing your thinking even if it unsettles and disturbs others.

Sharing the Love

At the same time a leader shares knowledge, he or she must share on an affective level, empathizing with others, and letting them know they are loved. The leader must evidence enthusiasm and excitement for the dream and inspire confidence that together people can attain it.

They needs to be optimistic, constantly joyful, and always ready to celebrate intermediate achievements on the journey to the dream.

Maintaining a dream is a sign of leadership maturity and calls the leader to set high attainable goals, to teach all the time, and to share and learn from others. A spiritual leader is a dreamer who offers refreshing and creative ideas and longs to communicate his or her dream, ideas, vision, and intuition with others.

There is a magical property about leadership, as the leader enables others to dream.


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Dr. Leonard Doohand

Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an author and workshop presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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Lead or Fail: Successful Leadership in Turbulent Times

Turbulent Times

Leadership isn’t what it used to be. The corner offices are slowly disappearing. The days of barking orders and expecting people to blindly follow are over.

Accountability, responsibility and transparency are on the rise – though someone should tell that to BP CEO.

Workforce demographics and diversity are changing. The days of leading like Franklin M. Hart Jr. are over.

It Ain’t Easy

This is not to say that being a leader was, or is, ever easy; or that earlier fundamentals should be tossed aside. However, in tough times, remaining a great leader can be even harder.

So what makes a successful leader in turbulent times? First and foremost, the ability to adapt your leadership style to changing environmental influences is key to being a successful leader. Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup says that “in the new normal,” old ways of doing business won’t work anymore.

The men and women who will conquer this new world will be the ones who best understand their constituencies’ state of mind.” ~Jim Clifton

By state of mind, Clifton is referring to new revelations being uncovered by behavioral economists — starting with the discovery that human decision-making is more emotional than rational.  As a leader, Clifton shares a similar mindset to many behavioral scientists and organizational development practitioners.

His view is that one of the most fundamental states of mind that leaders need to understand is the needs and desires of their employees: “…their will to work, their will to live, their will to revolt, their will to follow you.

Another element of state of mind is emotional affect: “how much stress your constituency feels about money, about trying to get to work, about their relationship with their boss.” Clifton believes that to be a successful leader you have to firmly understand states of mind.

In his view, everything important; everything human comes down to states of mind. The leader who is the best at understanding, relating to and communicating states of mind will be the one who wins.

Not that leadership is about winning or losing, however it sure is about winning over those you lead. As an organizational development practitioner and behavioral scientist, I share Clifton’s views; understanding and exhibiting certain human behaviors help to shape great leaders and great organizations.

“Leadership is best viewed through the eyes of the follower.” ~Tom Schulte

Behave Yourself!

Here are some behaviors of great leaders during turbulent times:


People can usually tell when “something is up.” So before the rumors begin flying and productivity is impacted, leadership should tell employees. When making strategic decisions, determining organizational changes or facing issues that impact employees, successful leaders need to be transparent with their workforce about how these matters arose, their thought process for dealing with them, and how their solutions may directly impact those they lead.


Being in a leadership position can sometimes be a solitary role. Often leaders make decisions in a vacuum and rely on managers or supervisors to communicate important information downward. Successful leaders lead through two-way communication. Much of it is nonverbal. For instance, when leaders “set the example,” that communicates to their people that they would not ask them to do anything that they would not be willing to do themselves, this only helps to make leaders seem more human to employees.

Particularly in turbulent times, people value direct interaction and communication from leaders. This not only helps to show that leaders are remaining committed to the people in organization, but also offers an opportunity for them to step out of the “tower” and build relationships with employees.


Trust is a fundamental behavior for any relationship, both personal and professional. According to a study by the Hay Group, a global management consultancy, there are 75 key components of employee satisfaction (Lamb & McKee, 2009).

They found that: Trust and confidence in top leadership was the single most reliable predictor of employee satisfaction in an organization. Trust must be earned. Leaders can earn employee trust by helping employees understand the company’s overall business strategy, informing them how they contribute to achieving key business goals and sharing information with employees on both how the company is doing and how an employee’s own division is doing relative to organizational objectives.

It is much easier for employees to trust a leader that shows an interest in them.


The basis of good leadership is honorable character and selfless service to the organization; compassion for employees and both their professional and personal situations.  His Holiness the 14th Dali Lama says, “I call compassion the global staple…for all people in every endeavor.” In employees’ eyes, what leadership does affects the organization’s objectives and their well-being.

When a person is deciding if they respect a leader, they don’t think about attributes, rather they see what leaders do. Observations can often tell an employee if a leader is an honorable and trusted person or a self-serving person, one who misuses authority to look good and get promoted. Self-serving leaders are not as effective because their employees only obey them, not follow them. When leaders show compassion and understanding for employees and their situations, it becomes easier for them to notice that their leaders are interested and concerned, and not as self-serving as possibly thought.

Self Awareness

Successful leaders have a heightened level of self-awareness, they have an understanding of themselves, their behaviors and actions, and how those behaviors and actions are interpreted by, and directly impact, employees. A good example of leadership self-awareness is exhibited in the U.S. Army’s leadership philosophy of “be, know, do.”

Be proficient and competent, know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, and do take responsibility and lead by example. Always be open to further growth and learning. Professional coaching is also a great well to help further develop leader self-awareness.

A colleague shared a speech with me given last year by Marillyn Hewson, President of Systems Integration-Owego, Lockheed Martin Corporation on the subject of leadership in turbulent times. To Marillyn, leadership is a set of personal behaviors that set the course and create an environment that energizes people to meet a goal.

Marillyn says “…it’s easy to be a leader when everything is going great. The challenge is how you act when things go wrong. In times of great change… or tremendous challenge… that’s when the leadership fundamentals matter most.”

Most competitive and sustainable organizations have great leaders at the top, and in the ranks!

Do you think you are one of those great leaders? Do you exhibit the best behaviors in the ares of transparency, communication, trust, compassion, and self-awareness? If not, what are your points of struggle? What are you doing to better your daily behaviors to become a person with even greater influence? I ‘d love to hear your story!

Bookmark Lead or Fail: Successful Leadership in Turbulent Times

Scott Span, MSOD
is President of Tolero Solutions OD & Change Management firm
He helps clients be responsive, focused and effective to facilitate sustainable growth

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