Spirituality and business leadership

Alberts, Margaretha Elizabeth (2006-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

The theme for this study was inspired by an intuitive and cognitive awareness of, and concern for, the challenges and complexities faced by business leaders in the twentyfirst century. The shift from the industrial to the post-industrial era has brought about a new, complex network of activities globally. The increasing uncertainties and divides that are facing the business world - as well as society in general - have led to the hypothesis that the old paradigms and the existing repertoire of leadership approaches to business are no longer effective. The shift to a networked society also demands a shift in the consciousness levels, virtues and values of business leaders. This view is built on the premise that, under certain conditions and in certain situations, business is an important driver of transformation in general. Business has the ability and the power to influence the whole, i.e. societies, communities, environments, etcetera. The assumption is that business per se could be an important catalyst of change in society, and that business leaders are certainly accountable for the co-creation of a sustainable and meaningful environment. Business’ role is now often understood as serving the whole, i.e. accepting some responsibility for all or most processes in which the business may be involved. Business leaders’ values and worldviews are perceived as sometimes directly influencing their decision-making processes, and the argument, therefore, is that a new consciousness or a values-based, holistic approach to business and society – i.e. spirituality – could be an enabler in creating meaning that can incorporate these dimensions. The awareness of the challenges for business leadership was enhanced by a statement made by Manual Castells (1998:368) that, in the Information Age, there is “an anxious search for meaning and spirituality”. This study particularly addresses the personal, transpersonal and organisational transformations that are influencing our ability to make sense and to create meaning in the context of post-industrial business. The theme of sense-making in organisations has been influenced by the theories of Karel Weick in particular. The hypothesis is that mental intelligence alone is no longer sufficient for the interpretation of the postindustrial landscape, and it argues the importance of business leaders’ developing spiritual intelligence and a new spiritual awareness as a probable enhancer of transformation and sustainability. The spirituality that is needed provides a holistic, values-based approach and the consequent capacity to deal with complexity and change that was lacking in previous management frameworks. The theories on spirituality and spiritual intelligence are based on the principles of quantum physics, or the “new science” as described by physicists such as Heisenberg, Bohm, Capra, Kaku and others. A comparison between the Newtonian approach and the quantum approach underpins the argument. The views of specifically Zohar and Marshall were used to substantiate this argument. The principles of spirituality and spiritual intelligence are juxtaposed against the leadership theories of specifically three contemporary authors, i.e. Robert Terry, Jim Collins as well as Richard Barrett. These three authors respectively and collectively argue in favour of the evolvement of a new holistic consciousness and of authenticity in servant leadership. The assumption is that these leadership qualities could enhance interdependency and may lead to sustainability. Spirituality and business leadership is therefore explored as a probable enabler of a process of transformation in people, in organisations and in society, as well as a possible catalyst for creating meaning, fulfilment and sustainability. The line of thought in this study is that people, as an integral part of the universe, are being challenged to change not only themselves, but by virtue of a raised intelligence and holistic consciousness called spirituality, also change the world (organisation) in which they behave, through their leadership conduct. This requires leaders to aspire to a better understanding and interpretation of a new world, and to reflect on the organisation and themselves from more dimensions than purely the cognitive. This study argues that this could include a consciousness that is referred to as spirituality and spiritual intelligence.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1803
This item appears in the following collections: