Leadership and Spiritual Health

colorful sunsetThe last two weeks we have been delving into various aspects of health and their relationship to leadership. This week we are looking at “spiritual health.” Normally, we don’t hear the terms “spiritual” and “health” together and we certainly don’t hear them alongside “leadership.” But going back to what we have been saying the last two weeks –the healthier you are, the better your performance. Leaders need to be at their best, (and to reconfirm, when we say “leaders” we don’t mean those with big titles, we mean those who practice the positive qualities of leadership in their lives regardless of their role).

The idea of “spiritual health” or being spiritually healthy is not about whether you have a religion or not. It’s about whether you have a sense of being connected to something greater than yourself.  How you define and express that connection is highly personal. You may feel connected to God, Divine Spirit, a greater consciousness or the greater good of the planet and its inhabitants. You may express it through religious affiliation, philosophical affiliation, meditation, yoga or another personal practice.

The question is, “how healthy are you in this arena right now?” How you would know is – do you actually feel connected to something larger than yourself? If you happen to be an atheist or agnostic it is still a valid question – do you feel a connection to the planet we live on and its inhabitants beyond just your personal existence?

What are your practices around this connection? If you find the connection is strongest through religious affiliation, have you been able to attend your church/synagogue/mosque lately? If it comes through philosophical contemplation have you read anything new and stimulating recently? If it comes through meditation and/or yoga are you making time for those practices? Do you spend time with like-minded people? Do you discuss your thoughts, questions, concerns and beliefs?

If you lead an organization of some type, have you considered the spiritual health of the organization? In the June 2008 issue of Ode Magazine, the cover story The Gospel According to Adam Smith was about “spiritual capitalism” http://bit.ly/Pdsv  The article reviews some top organizations implementing spiritual values and the positive results that occurred. One of the people profiled was Art DeLorenzo who had been a Group Vice President at Ameriprise Financial. Here is an abbreviated excerpt from the article, “In 2000 after the dot-com stock market crash his team was dealing with especially heavy negativity. DeLorenzo contacted Rick Aberman, a developmental psychologist and founding partner of Lennick Aberman Group…and put him in touch with Fred Luskin, a psychologist who cofounded the Stanford University Forgiveness Project. …The trio developed a program based on Luskin’s “forgiveness” training. Why forgiveness? ‘Interpersonal kindness and goodwill that is almost unlimited…that is the spiritual basis of life’ said Luskin, who says we develop it by practicing what he calls ‘the three tenets’ of compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. “

The article continues, “The results of this training were encouraging. Participants showed an average 18 percent increase in commissions on sales compared to 11 percent for those who did not complete the training. In a sales environment, generating 7 percent more revenue than your colleagues is huge…Since this initial training each year participants have outstripped the average productivity of their peers. In 2008, Ameriprise decided to roll the program out to their Mid-Atlantic Market Group of 1,100 salespeople.”

By learning basic “spiritual health” tools in this program the sales people clearly displayed productivity increases in the workplace, and the company benefited from the spiritual health of its people.

This is just an example of why we are suggesting you evaluate the state of your spiritual health, and that if you are a business owner or organizational leader, you might want to consider the spiritual health of the group. Spiritual health creates a “win-win” for you, the team and the customers.

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