Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Prosocial and Moral Character of the Spiritual Leader

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

The Prosocial and Moral Character of the Spiritual Leader

Article excerpt

Spirituality and spiritual leadership have become topics of interest recently. The research on spiritual personalities (Lawler-Row & Piferi, 2006), its model applicability (Gomez & Fisher, 2005), scale and construct validity (Mascaro, Rosen, & Morey, 2004; van Dierendonck, 2004), and properties (MacDonald & Holland, 1993) are developing. Spiritual leaders have been found to have extroverted (Maltby & Day, 2001), social, excitement-seeking, carefree, and optimistic personality traits (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975).

Spirituality has expanded the scope covered by religion (Hatch, Bury, Naberhaus, & Hellmich, 1998). Religious spiritual leaders such as Christ, Bodhisattva, and Mahomet were all born in harsh environments; their spirituality and intelligence led their followers to go through testing and difficult times in those early years. But they still conquered great difficulties, attracted hundreds of followers, and built great religions. They needed strong willpower and confidence in what they believed. Spiritual leaders seem to have very different characters from others. In this paper we investigated the spiritual leader's personality differences using the Q-sort method.

Combined with the case study research methods, quantitative questionnaires, and Q-sort analytical techniques, we explored a spiritual leader's values differences within an organization (in this case a department store) as well as his point of view regarding managing and reforming an organization. The spirituality of the leader was identified by two professors and one PhD student during their work in the department store as consultants who processed qualitative (especially interviewing more than 20 managers including the president and vice president) and quantitative research in order to evaluate the outcome of an organizational reform within the department store. The spiritual leader is the president of the department store. All the top managers interviewed indicated that the contents of organizational changes the president tried to pass on to them are truly spiritual, especially Lou-Tsu's ideas. Lou-Tsu, the inventor of Taoism, was a representative and famous ancient spiritual guru. Thus, we tried to use the Q-sort method to discover the spiritual values of the leader and the specific values contained within the perspectives of spirituality and organizational change.

We used 511 employees within the department store as the empirical control group for comparison. We found the spiritual leader's value priorities and contents were very different from others. The spiritual leader's value contents were more prosocial and morally oriented. By contrast, the content of employees' values were more materialistic and practical regarding the management of the department store. The research results are consistent with the results of other studies (Argyris & Schon, 1996; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). Moreover, in this study, the sociable orientation of spirituality is specifically discovered in an organization that has aimed to maximize its profitability for its shareholders. Results indicate that the sociable and moral orientation of spirituality does not change due to environmental differences.

Moreover, we provide a qualitative description of the process of individual spiritual transformation. In this case, from the process of individual spiritual transformation, it can be seen that, like most other spiritual leaders, the spiritual leader in this study also went through hard times and acquired wisdom from written records of other spiritual leaders.

Spiritual matters involve humankind's ultimate nature with a unique relationship which goes beyond time and the material world. The spiritual is traditionally contrasted with the material and may include an emotional experience of religious awe and reverence (Conn, 1986; Heschel, 1997). Spirituality carries with it a worldview that refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts with it. …

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