Capturing the Heart of Leadership: Spirituality and Community in the New American Workplace

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

Chapter 16
Spiritual Leadership: Setting a Higher Moral Standard

Most of us spend most of our lives in work. And the work we do has a moral dimension. Individuals want to work for the common good. Every individual wants to do good work and to contribute to the success of the organization. Unfortunately, in too many work situations we have been led to believe that there is one standard for private morality and another for public (business) morality and conduct ( Nair 1994). Not so. Morality argues for one standard, applicable in personal, social, economic, and all other aspects of life. Our morals and ethics come out of our values as individuals and as communities (cultures). If we ignore our values at work, it is likely that the moral tone of the rest of our lives will decline.

People are, by and large, consistent in their morality in all dimensions of their lives. Leaders recognize this as they interact with followers on the job. They couch their relationships with followers in values terms, in terms of the prevailing moral and ethical tone of their work (or other) community.

Leaders must consider the whole person--their moral center, the range of their capacities, and the height of their aspirations. Leaders need to learn to nourish and respect the spirit. They need to integrate profit and respect for the people who create profit. The purpose of the company should be to create a positive impact on its community, rather than using profit as the sole motive. Including a moral dimension in our choices and actions as leaders will help us think and act beyond narrowly defined business and political

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