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Effective Leadership: Vision, Values and a Spiritual Perspective

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I propose that the creation and maintenance of personal and collective spirituality requires a setting of Heart–in which Grace and Coherence abound. This setting, in turn, requires spiritual leadership. The five Best Practices of Legacy Leadership that are offered by Jeannine Sandstrom and Lee Smith (2017) offer a wonderful foundation for constructing a concept of effective spiritual leadership. However, there are additional challenges and opportunities to be found when a spiritual perspective is taken regarding each of these five Best Practices—as Sandstrom and Smith (2005) have done.

It is in this expanded version of Legacy Leadership regarding spiritual leadership that we find Robert Bellah’s coherence and Paul Tillich’s grace. Ultimately, as Tillich reminds us, grace is found in the formation and ongoing improvement of community. Habits of the Heart are thriving when a Legacy Leadership model of Vision and Values is introduced. We borrow from Sandstrom and Smith’s presentation of this sixth Best Practice and focus specifically on ways in which this sixth practice of leadership is represented in an expanded version of the five other Best Practices. We begin with Best Practice One.

Leadership Practice One: Vision and Values

At its best, Sandstrom and Smith’s first Best Practice requires the holding of a vision that resides above and beyond immediate, secular concerns. It is about the identification of intentions that are truly of importance (with regard to sustainability and achieving the greater good). It is about discernment—what is the source of our vision and values and are we embracing this vision and these values on behalf of that which is best and most authentic within our self.

From a spiritual perspective, Best Practice One is about the establishment and enactment of a plan by all individuals and all humankind. This best practice is about embracing and encouraging remembrance of these sacred intentions and plans.  This overarching, “grander” vision and attendant values take priority over secular vision and values, and those holding this vision and these values never waver regarding their priority. Personal values are in alignment with collective values. Members of the community will ”walk the talk” at all times, and intentionally model the established values. These values are integrated into everything that a leader does.

Identifying Values and sharing commitment to a Code of Conduct

In the world we live in today, values are vague and ambiguous, up for grabs, so to speak.               Each person defines values as it suits him or her. There are no more absolute truths. However, we need not abandon values or absolute truth. We can live righteously – rightly, according to a set of shared values. What is truth? What is good? The world, perhaps unknowingly, has, throughout its history, engaged spiritual texts to shape its laws, institutions, and systems as well as moral and value standards. While these texts have often been ignored, it does not mean that mankind doesn’t know in its collective heart what is right, what is true, what is good.

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