Home Leadership Effective Leadership: Vision, Values and a Spiritual Perspective

Effective Leadership: Vision, Values and a Spiritual Perspective

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The change in behavior is likely to be sustained if it is directed toward the compelling vision of the future and if it is intended for the common good. There is one other distinction to be drawn regarding effective influence. For influence and inspiration to be sustained, internalization is required but is not sufficient. There must also be a realistic appraisal of what is doable. Hope must be something more than “wishful” thinking. As I have already noted, a mansion built in the shining city on the hill might have to be rebuilt several times—especially if a cyclical template has been engaged.

The reconstruction can take time and patience. Inspiration does not necessarily mean the motivation to climb the highest peaks and scale huge obstacles. It can be the quiet day-to-day peace and joy that one’s lifework should model while we are building or rebuilding the mansion. Fortunately, this eternal city comes with a nourishing fountain to which we will inevitably be drawn for nourishment and resuscitation. This is the fountain of Living Waters that has been placed at the heart of our external city. It is intended for our thirsty world.

Generativity, Caring and Spirituality

We shift our perspective away from influence and spiritual internalization to the basic motivations that lead us to consider work in the Eternal City. Why do we travel to this city and seek to rebuild the mansion? It is more than just an influence from the outside; It is also the internal yearning from something called Generativity that was identified by Erik Erikson (1980). We are generative when we chose to care about something deeply and, in turn, do sustained acts of caring for that about which we care. Furthermore, we express and experience generativity through the enactment of several different, though interrelated, acts of deep caring (Bergquist and Quehl, 2019).

Generative One: There is the generativity that we experience as parents— even when our children are grown up and we are no longer their primary caretakers. Indeed, caring about our children does not fade away as we grow older; rather, it takes on a new form and is accompanied by the delight that comes with seeing our children succeed in their own lives and finding their own distinctive identity.

The expression of this first mode of generativity need not be limited to the care of children we have raised from birth. We all know of extraordinary men and women who have taken care of children via foster care, adoption, or serving as a nurturing uncle or grandparent. One of our dear friends joined with his gay partner to raise a boy from a broken home—a dramatic example of this first type of generativity.

Generativity Two: There is another form of generativity that comes with caring about young men and women who are not part of our immediate or extended family. This type of generativity is often engaged when we are older and in a position of some power or influence in an organization or community. We care for the next generation of leaders or the next generation of craftsmen and artisans in our field. We are often generative in this second way through our role as mentors.

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