Mapping the Discussion on Leadership Spirituality: With a Critical Evaluation of References to Christian Spirituality

by John Oguche (Author)
Thesis 376 Pages


The emergence in the last two and a half decades of the concept of leadership spirituality is a further indication of the increasing need for a more critical, inspired, and ethically responsible leadership. In order to illuminate this most striking new focal point in contemporary leadership theory and literature, this work aims to critically map the contemporary scientific literature on the subject, with a special focus on the valuation of Christian spirituality. Three key issues engage our attention: the emergence of spirituality in the leadership discourse; the inclusion or exclusion of spirituality from the Christian tradition(s) in that discourse; and the valuation of the particular contribution Christian spirituality can make in this context. In this regard our focus will be on the Catholic tradition. The final objective is to clarify in the perspective of scholars belonging to the Catholic tradition how the practice of Christian spirituality contributes to taking moral responsibility and to moral integrity. As such this work is a case and a building stone for a broader investigation on the link between ethics and spirituality in business.
Answering fundamental questions about spirituality in leadership, the work establishes a link between spirituality and self-assessment. As such, it establishes that the reasons spirituality is valued in Leadership are more fundamental and not merely utilitarian (references to more efficient work or better economic results). Drawing critical insights from scholars the work does an indepth examination of the Catholic traditions (focusing on the Benedictine, Ignatian, and Opus Dei orders) and makes a case for how the practice of spirituality help with taking moral responsibility and for moral integrity. It shows how the Christian traditions represent not a static but transformative vision. This way the work becomes, therefore, a case and a building stone for a broader investigation on the link between ethics and spirituality in business. Spirituality takes us beyond that which we see. It, therefore, tells us that something lies beyond the usefulness of what we value; and that gaining rational control over all things is not all there is to being „good". Drawing on the huge insights and power of the language of scriptures and insights from moral imagination and contemplation, the work shows how we can move from being personally positively affected (from "being good") to becoming "good leaders". That implies, above all, understanding not only our lives but also leadership as an experience of transcendence; and that Christian spirituality is a transformative experience.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Table of Contents
  • General Introduction
  • Nature of the Discussion (Problem)
  • Argument of the Thesis
  • Goals
  • Methodology
  • Key Features
  • Chapter 1 The Emergence of Spirituality in Leadership Literature
  • Introduction
  • 1.1. The Concept of Leadership
  • 1.1.1. Leadership Definitions
  • 1.1.2. Transformational Leadership
  • 1.1.3. Contrasting Transactional Leadership with Transformational Leadership
  • 1.1.4. Distinguishing Transformational Leadership
  • 1.1.5. Pseudo-transformational Leadership and Authentic Transformational Leadership
  • 1.2. Spirituality
  • 1.3. Leadership Spirituality
  • 1.4. The Emergence of Spirituality in the Leadership Discourse
  • 1.4.1. The Need for Meaning and Integration
  • Decline in Participation in Religious and Civic Activities versus Greater Attention to Work
  • The Uncertainty of Today’s Economic and Working Conditions
  • Demographic Factors
  • New Age Tradition and the Public Christian Evangelicalism
  • Increase in the Standard of Living
  • Women in the Workplace
  • Motivating Good and Efficient Leaders
  • 1.4.2. Openness to Spirituality in Contemporary Leadership Theories
  • The Servant Leadership Concept
  • Authentic Leadership and Behavioral Integrity
  • The Learning Organizational Paradigm
  • 1.5. The Challenges of Integrating Spirituality and Leadership
  • 1.5.1. The Role of Spirituality in the Face of Ethics
  • 1.5.2. The Fear of Actualizing the Goals of Spirituality in Organizations
  • 1.5.3. The Challenge of the Crisis of Belief
  • Taboos and Residues
  • The Lack of References
  • 1.6. The Necessity of Integrating Spirituality with the Workplace: A Further Response to the Challenges
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 2 The Inclusion or Exclusion of Spirituality From Institutionalized Religions: Mapping the Discussion
  • Introduction
  • 2.1. A Background of the Key Authors and Their Works
  • 2.2. The Religion-Neutral Approach to Spirituality
  • 2.2.1. Separating Religion from Spirituality (Mitroff and Denton)
  • The Feedback of Participants
  • Interpretation of Data
  • 2.2.2. Other Views on Religion-neutral Spirituality
  • 2.3. The Religion Focused Approach to Spirituality (The Analysis of Douglas Hicks)
  • 2.3.1. The Basic Argument of Hicks
  • 2.3.2. Underscoring Hick’s Argument for Religion in the Workplace
  • Over Stating the Fact
  • The Possibility of Addressing the Problem
  • 2.3.3. Thierry Pauchant’s View of Religion in the Workplace
  • The Quest for Meaning and Spirituality as a Quest for Upholding Religious Beliefs
  • i. Prevalence of Faith
  • ii. A Survey of Values and the Different Interpretations
  • a. The Modernists
  • b. The Traditionalists
  • c. The Transmodernists
  • The Logic of the Market Economy (Harvey Cox)
  • i. The Basic Argument of Harvey Cox and Pauchant’s Analysis
  • 2.3.4. Other Views on Religion-centered Spirituality
  • 2.4. Supportive Arguments in the Opposing Views of Spirituality and Religion in the Workplace
  • 2.4.1. Preliminary Arguments for a Religion Neutral Best-Practice Model
  • 2.4.2. Criticism of the Values-based Model
  • 2.4.3. Mitroff and Denton’s Best-practice Model
  • The Values-Based Organization
  • The Religion-Based Organization
  • The Recovering Organization
  • The Evolutionary Organization
  • The Socially Responsible Organization
  • 2.4.4. Arguing for a Religion-Centered Spirituality Best-Practice Model
  • The Individual and Institutional Distinction of Religious Practice
  • i. Individual Religious Practice
  • ii. Institutional Religious Practice
  • a. Respectful Pluralism
  • b. Understanding Respectful Pluralism in the Context of Contemporary Workplace
  • c. The Need to Address Diversity and the Framework for Establishing Respectful Pluralism
  • 2.5. The Religious Neutral and Religious Centered Approach: A Synthesis of the Arguments and Some Critical Insights
  • 2.6. Underscoring the Call for Spirituality and the Multi-Dimensional Nature of the Person
  • 2.6.1. The Cultural Dimension of the Human Person
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 3 Fundamental Questions about Spirituality in Leadership
  • Introduction
  • 3.1. Underscoring the Fundamental Role of Spirituality in Leadership
  • 3.2. Spirituality and Religion: What Distinctions Exist
  • 3.2.1. Defining Religion
  • 3.2.2. What Distinctions
  • 3.2.3. Addressing the Distinctions
  • 3.2.4. Identifying Common Grounds
  • 3.3. The Relationship Between Spirituality and the Self-Assessment of Leaders
  • 3.3.1. The Plea for Spirituality in Leadership and Some Practical Concerns
  • 3.4. Spirituality and Leadership Self-assessment
  • 3.4.1. Setting the Basis
  • 3.4.2. Self-assessment and Spirituality
  • 3.5. Reasons for the Valuation of Spirituality: Merely Utilitarian or More Fundamental?
  • 3.6. Further Response to Critical Views on the Valuation or Role of Spirituality
  • 3.6.1. Addressing Epistemological Questions
  • Louis Fry et al. and the Study at A US Military Academy
  • 3.6.2. Understanding the Process of Spiritual Transformation
  • Further View of the Need to Address Epistemological Questions
  • 3.6.3. Understanding the Spiritual Aspect of Spiritual Leadership
  • Individual and Organizational Spiritual Experience/Transformation
  • i. Individual Spiritual Transformation: The First Half of the Journey
  • ii. Individual Spiritual Transformation: The Second Half of the Journey
  • iii. Organizational Spiritual Transformation: The First Half of the Journey
  • 3.6.4. Analysis of the Individual and Organizational Spiritual Transformation
  • 3.7. A Preliminary Exploration of the Relationship between Ethics and Spirituality
  • 3.7.1. The Imperative of Communal Living
  • 3.7.2. Self-examination
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 4 Christian Spirituality and Leadership
  • Introduction
  • 4.1. Christian Spirituality in General
  • 4.2. The Benedictine Spiritual Tradition and Leadership
  • 4.2.1. Brief History
  • 4.2.2. The Rule of St. Benedict
  • 4.2.3. Benedictine Spirituality and Leadership
  • 4.2.4. Anselm Grün: A Brief Background
  • 4.2.5. Anselm Grün’s Hermeneutics
  • Self-Leadership and Spirituality
  • Communication
  • Living as a Family or in Community
  • Prayer and Work
  • 4.3. The Jesuits’ Spirituality and Leadership
  • 4.3.1. Ignatian Spirituality in General
  • His Way of Proceeding
  • 4.3.2. The Spiritual Exercises
  • 4.3.3. Chris Lowney
  • Chris Lowney and his Appraisal of the Leadership Success Story
  • 4.3.4. Heroic Leadership: The Case Study
  • The Jesuit View of Leadership
  • i. We Are All Leaders, and We Are Leading All The Time, Well or Poorly
  • ii. Leadership Springs from Within; It Is About Who I Am as Much as What I Do
  • iii. Leadership Is Not an Act; It Is a Way of Living
  • iv. Becoming a Leader Is an Ongoing Process of Self-Development
  • The Four Leadership Pillars
  • i. Self-awareness
  • ii. Ingenuity
  • iii. Love
  • iv. Heroism
  • 4.3.5. André Delbecq
  • Calling and the Jesuit Tradition
  • i. The Christian Perspective on calling
  • ii. The Integration of Spirituality with Work
  • iii. Courage
  • The reflection of this tradition in his own life
  • 4.4. The Society of Opus Dei
  • 4.4.1. Opus Dei and Controversies
  • 4.4.2. Opus Dei: Spirituality and Implication for Leadership
  • The Relationship between Prayer and Work
  • i. Understanding Prayer in the Light of Work
  • The Pre-eminence of Business and Secular Professionalism
  • 4.4.3. Business and Professional Actions of Opus Dei
  • 4.5. Analysis and Critical Reflection
  • 4.6. The Christian Traditions and the Transformative Vision
  • 4.7. Transformational Leadership and Transformative Spirituality
  • 4.8. Transformative Spirituality and Leadership
  • 4.9. The Call for Spirituality in the Workplace/Leadership and Transformation
  • 4.10. Interpreting the Link between Christian Spirituality and Ethics
  • 4.10.1. Christian Spirituality Traditions and Ethics in General
  • 4.10.2. Christian Spirituality Traditions and Ethics in Specific Terms
  • Practical Wisdom and the Spirituality Traditions
  • Discernment, Spirituality Traditions and Practical (Ethical) Wisdom
  • i. The Benedictine Tradition and Discernment
  • ii. The Ignatian Tradition and Discernment
  • iii. Discernment in Opus Dei
  • iv. Discernment in the Catholic Spirituality Tradition: Critical Insight
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 5 The General Notions of Spirituality in Leadership and the Christian Spirituality Tradition
  • Introduction
  • 5.1. General Notions of Spirituality versus the Christian Spirituality Tradition
  • 5.2. Some Critical Thoughts on Spirituality in Leadership
  • 5.3. The Christian Approach: Linking Spirituality and Moral Responsibility Differently
  • 5.3.1. Theology and Spirituality
  • 5.3.2. Christian Spirituality as Unique Source of Inspiration for Innovative and Courageous Ethical Decisions and Actions
  • The Richness of Language in General Vis-à-vis a Lack Thereof
  • 5.3.3. Language, Imagination and Wisdom as Unique Constituents of the Christian Tradition (Narrative)
  • Scripture
  • i. Scripture as a Source of Examples
  • ii. Scripture as Illuminative
  • 5.3.4. The Concept of Moral Imagination in Business Ethics
  • Moral Imagination and Business Leadership
  • 5.4. Spirituality as a Major Antecedent Factor for Moral Imagination
  • 5.4.1. Emphasizing the Distinctiveness of Christian Spirituality
  • 5.5. Practical Approaches to the Influence of Spiritual Values
  • 5.5.1. Contemplation
  • Meditation
  • Silence and Listening
  • 5.5.2. Discernment
  • 5.6. A Brief Review of an Aspect of African Narrative Language and Relation to Ethical Wisdom
  • 5.6.1. African Proverbs as Source of Ethical Leadership Wisdom
  • 5.6.2. A Sample of African Proverbs
  • 5.6.3. The “Ubuntu” Philosophy
  • 5.7. An Analysis of the Implications of Leadership for Human Progress and Development or Transformation
  • 5.8. Business Ethics, Codes of Conduct, Spirituality
  • 5.8.1. The Mergence of Codes with the Sensitivity of Spirituality
  • Conclusion
  • General Conclusion
  • Particular Features/Findings
  • I. Emergence of Spirituality in Leadership Discourse: Underlying Factors, Transformational Leadership, Challenges
  • II. The Challenge of the Role of Religion, Respectful Pluralism, Culture and Religion
  • III. Fundamental Issues in the Understanding of Religion and Spirituality in Leadership Underscored
  • IV. Demonstrating the Nature of the Real Motivation for Spirituality in Organizations and for Individuals
  • V. Christian Spirituality as Transformative; and Leadership as an Experience of Transcendence
  • VI. Inspiration, Innovation, and Courage for Ethical Decisions and Actions
  • Bibliography

←18 | 19→

General Introduction

In every domain and on every level of life, leadership is simply inevitable. The question of how groups of individuals achieve coordination and collective action is important to the understanding of the very nature of societies and any attempt to downplay the role of leadership in the process can, at the least, be said to be catastrophic. Hence in the social sciences, leadership is seen as permeating all aspects of our lives as human social beings.1 But the scale and importance of leadership in human societies go beyond merely solving problems as may be the case in non-human species.2 “Human leaders not only initiate group action but also motivate, plan, organize, direct, monitor, and punish to achieve group action.”3 It will be an understatement to say that leadership is central to human societies. However, how well this is understood and appreciated raises more questions than answers; hence James MacGregor Burns remarks in his award winning book, Leadership, that “leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth”4 No known human societies have existed without some form of leadership. Even when groups set out to be leaderless, research has shown that a leader-follower structure emerges spontaneously, leading to the conclusion that whenever a group of people come together, a leader-follower relationship naturally develops. As such many experts share the view of Burns, at least to the extent that leadership is a universal human ←19 | 20→behavior.5 Underscoring the importance of leadership is also given eloquent testimony in the lives of great leaders in history who by their heroic examples brought far-reaching changes to their societies. In some cases these leaders took charge of their groups and led them, often against many odds, to safety, victory, and even to prosperity. In this regard we can mention military leaders like Alexander the Great, Horatio Nelson, and George Patton. Or political leaders like Franklin Roosevelt, Gamal Nasser, and Nelson Mandela. We have revolutionary leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Luxembourg. There are business leaders like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. Over and above all these, we can speak of religious leaders like Jesus, Mohammed, and Buddha.6

In recent times a number of events have drawn our attention to the fundamental role of leadership and followership some of which include the collapse of the banks, the emergence of Barack Obama as president of the United States, the war in Iraq and the Arab Spring.7 Not only do these events speak of Leadership as the cornerstone of human societies, organizations and of course businesses, but they also point to the inalienable need for leadership to bring about change and the attainment of a group’s set goals and objectives. Hence it has been described as giving vision and direction to a group, enabling its members to work together to fulfill its aims.8 The very fact of its strategic importance in human societies has made the leadership question gain great momentum today in academic and non-academic discourses. Central to the discussions is the need to make leadership more efficient and relevant especially in the light of many social, economic and political problems of our time. A lack of leadership does not necessarily refer to the physical absence of people in leadership positions. It refers to a situation where people who occupy such positions lack not only the professional credentials to be leaders but also the inner personal conviction to be true to the collective agenda of the group they lead. While, however, we speak of the strategic importance of leadership, the question remains to be asked as to whether commensurate attention has been given to discourses on effective leadership and the role of ethics or the appreciation of values in groups and organizations. Again, there is more to making leadership truly effective than the mere talk of ethics and ←20 | 21→values. There is the need to emphasize and seek ways by which leaders personally imbibe and translate values into concrete actions, and actions, in turn, into enduring organizational values and/or legacies.9 Thus the quest to make leadership truly responsible and purposeful has led to the need to speak of not only moral leadership but most recently of the place of spirituality in leadership.

The place of spiritual capital in the build-up to moral or ethical leadership is set within the context of the insight that has been gained that sustainable social change via leadership must engage leaders and followers on a moral basis.10 Hence distinction is made in leadership literature between transactional leadership and transformational leadership. The underpinning arguments for this distinction lie in highlighting the facts of integrity and authenticity in leadership. This not only points to the place of values and morals in the leadership process and its strategic role in human societies but to how the discussion can be enhanced. Leadership spirituality researches, therefore, have been focused on the relationship between effective leadership and the role of spirituality in leadership with the central aim of inquiring into the meaning and place of spirituality in leadership or the workplace.

Until now leadership researchers have focused on human and social capital in leadership. Human capital refers to the development of the individual leader. It is about helping individual leaders acquire or enhance knowledge, skills, and abilities aimed at equipping them with the general ability to lead. Social capital involves the role other persons, organization or societies play in leadership in any given context.11 Like the spiritual capital, the social capital had not always received the attention it deserved,12; nonetheless, it began receiving ←21 | 22→recognition long before researches began into the spiritual capital. Traditionally, spirituality can be said to have functioned in everyday life in three ways. “First, it has answered deep and often pressing questions concerning the meaning of human life, the suffering associated with loss and deprivation, and the fears and hopes connected with boundary situations such as birth and death. Second, it has legitimized existing power relations. Third, it has resisted those same power relations.”13 While spirituality can be said to have answered these questions, it remains to be seen how particularly the modern society has applied these to the questions of human development vis-a-vis the attempt to gain “rational” control over all things and to see all things from the point of view of their utility value. This then leaves us with the question; does anything lie beyond the usefulness of what we value. If the answer is yes, then what takes us beyond their usefulness?14

In the light of the foregoing and the quest to work towards changing organizations for the better and thus become more ethical, a new general common ground in the study of spirituality and leadership is that spirituality is important for leadership and cannot be left out of leadership practice or the workplace. This position is reinforced by studies that have shown that conventional techniques on their own will not produce fundamental and long-lasting changes. At best they produce partial changes that are easily eroded with time or work for a tiny fraction of organizations.15 On the heels of this assertion a strong opinion is held to the effect that most organizations today are spiritually impoverished and that many of the problems that are associated with them are due to this impoverishment. In the same vein, the fact that this field of study has not been given much attention in the organizational sciences as a topic for empirical or systematic study is itself seen as a sign of the spiritual impoverishment of the academia.16 However, the question of models for the practice of spirituality has been viewed differently leading to talks as to what should be the acceptable model for the ←22 | 23→practice of spirituality in leadership or in the workplace. The understanding of this argument stands as a major factor towards any successful application of spirituality towards making leadership and/or businesses more ethical.

Nature of the Discussion (Problem)

Some authors such as Ian Mitroff and Elizabeth Denton argue on the basis of empirical research that spirituality excludes or makes abstraction from practices and insights related to institutionalized religions. Other authors (Thierry Pauchant, Douglas Hicks and others) present more nuanced conclusions from empirical research and they shape room for religious spirituality in general and Christian spirituality in particular. The question of the models for the practice of spirituality stems from the different views of the relationship between spirituality and religion. Religion has been viewed by some as largely formal, intolerant and capable of creating divisions amongst people rather than uniting them. In contrast, spirituality is viewed as informal and personal. More so, it is viewed as universal, meaning that it is non-denominational, tolerant and broadly inclusive. Thus, they will see spirituality as meaning “the basic feeling of being connected with one’s complete self, others, and the entire universe”.17 Yet there are yearnings for models of practicing spirituality especially in the sphere of the workplace. Models that are geared towards harnessing the whole person and the immense spiritual energy that is at the core of each person so that they are able to produce highly rated products and services.

The fact of the models for practicing spirituality brings the argument of those who speak for a link between spirituality and religion to the fore. For some scholars, arguing that religion is private and distinct from our actions in the public sphere creates a moral problem. Even when they call for caution against an overriding influence of one religious belief over others, they make a case for the fact that our religious convictions play a major role in the values we hold.18 This, however, does not simply solve the problem of acceptable models. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the human person is constituted of body and soul and people are able to express their highest quality when they are able to connect with their innermost selves or express their souls. Thus, it can be expressed that as human beings our real essence remains invisible and can only become visible through the actions and services we put forth. We shall be seeing how this ←23 | 24→functions in Christian spirituality while at the same time noting the views for a pluralistic approach.

Argument of the Thesis

For Leadership in the public sphere or in organizations to be relevant, it must be concerned about people, their future, their hopes and aspirations, the progress they make socially, economically and politically. It, therefore, must seek to be visionary and purposeful in order to qualify as transformational. This can only be set within the context of a proper understanding of the use of power and authority that a given “office” provides. This is underscored by the fact that most of the ills facing the world today, be it social, economic or political, can be ascribed more to systemic failures than the lack of means or resources. The reference to “systemic” implies that it involves leaders and followers in their appreciation of the dictates of society and culture. It is in the face of these facts and the desire to contribute towards making leadership more effective and ethical that spirituality has become one of the most striking new focal points in contemporary leadership theory and literature. Set within this context and in the light of the arguments for the different models of viewing spirituality, this research, therefore, seeks to answer the following questions: How did spirituality emerge in the scientific leadership literature, which definitions or theories of spirituality are proposed and in what regards do they overlap with or differ from the classical definitions in the Christian reference works on spirituality? What are the reasons why some authors include or exclude the Christian tradition(s)? In the publications of those authors who value or think within Catholic traditions, how do they draw conclusions from the practice of spirituality for taking moral responsibility and for moral integrity? As such our study is a case and a building stone for a broader investigation on the link between ethics and spirituality in business.


In our attempt to answer the questions raised in the foregoing section, therefore, this research project aims to critically map the contemporary scientific literature on leadership spirituality, with a special focus on the valuation of Christian spirituality (for practical reasons limited to the Catholic tradition). In this regard we aim to analyze and synthesize the contribution of prominent authors such as Chris Lowney, André Delbecq, Anselm Grün and some new movements in the Catholic Church, in order to assess the relevance of classical and new ←24 | 25→spiritualities for the overall discussion on spirituality in leadership. We will try to corroborate the research hypothesis that Catholic spirituality traditions are living sources of spiritual wisdom capable of challenging more new age or non-institutional types of leadership spirituality.


We shall embark on a critical study of the literature on leadership spirituality, starting with a critical evaluation of the diverse definitions of spirituality as proposed in the leadership literature and in the light of the definitions given in reference works such as the New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality, The New Dictionary of Religions, as well as the works of Sandra M. Schneiders, etc. Subsequently we will investigate the reasons why some authors reject references to institutionalized religion in general and Christian traditions in particular (focusing on the work of Ian Mitroff and Elizabeth Denton, amongst others) and we will synthesise the thinking of those authors who are more positive in this regard (Thierry Pauchant, Douglas Hicks and other scholars). With respect to the Catholic authors we will elucidate how the participants in the discussion on spirituality in leadership see the link between spirituality and moral integrity.

Key Features

This work begins with a clarification of some key terms and a survey of the emergence of spirituality in the leadership discourse. It goes on to set out the actual discussion on the role of spirituality in the scientific literature on leadership, starting from the thesis put forward by Mitroff and Denton according to whom spirituality necessarily excludes practices and insights related to institutionalized religion. Their arguments will be analyzed and confronted with more nuanced interpretations of empirical data by authors such as Thierry Pauchant and Douglas Hicks. The synthesis of the discussion will serve as a starting point for mapping the broader (non exclusively empirical) studies on leadership and spirituality.

Some fundamental questions about spirituality in leadership will be analyzed. Besides looking at the relationship between spirituality and religion, we shall also be looking at the relationship between spirituality and the self-assessment of leaders. Our key concern here is to find out whether spirituality is valued merely for utilitarian (references to more efficient work or better economic results) reasons or is it more cogent to assert that it is more fundamental? If it is more fundamental, how then do we interpret the link between spirituality and ethics?

←25 | 26→Answering the above questions paves the way for discussing Christian spirituality and leadership. Our analyses and critical reflection will focus on authors or movements who pay attention to the contribution of Christian spirituality traditions to leadership, like the Ignatian and Benedictine traditions amongst others. In particular the focus will be on the work of Chris Lowney, André Delbecq (both inspired by the Ignatian spirituality), and Anselm Grün (Benedictine tradition) as well as on the leadership concept in some new Catholic movements who have a special interest in recruiting members who hold leadership positions (Opus Dei and the spirituality of Escriva will serve here as a case). The distinctive authors and their traditions will be critically compared in view of not only understanding the diversity of specific Christian contribution to leadership spirituality or their openness to other traditions, but also their different understanding of leadership itself in order to clarify the question surrounding whether they imply a static or a transformative vision. Attention will also be paid to the question of how the different Christian traditions (or the authors which actualize them) interpret the link between spirituality and ethics. For a better understanding of this link a critical evaluation will be made based on a leadership theory inspired by a Christian spirituality tradition (as opposed to that of theories of general notions of spirituality). The focal point will be answering the question: Does the Christian approach lead to linking spirituality and moral responsibility differently? This critical evaluation will also enable us to answer the fundamental question: Is spirituality more than a new management tool (sometimes described as “wellness management”), and if the answer is yes, what are the conditions for becoming a precondition for the development of a critical and inspired type of morally responsible leadership.

Our conclusion shall make clear that the leader, irrespective of the professional training, is vulnerable; vulnerable to bad judgment, to being misled, to abuse of office and corruption, etc. As such good leadership demands good leaders. This inturn implies that beyond the professional training, the leader requires a higher level of motivation.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (December)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 376 pp.

Biographical notes

John Oguche (Author)

John Oguche is a priest currently working in the Catholic diocese of Regensburg, Germany. He enrolled in the faculty of Theology and Religious Studies of the Catholic University of Leuven in 2009 where he completed his initial and advanced masters with his research focused on the theological appraisal of leadership in general. He was admitted into the doctoral program of the faculty in 2011. His doctoral project on the theme of Leadership Spirituality addressed his main research interest, Business Ethics.


Title: Mapping the Discussion on Leadership Spirituality: With a Critical Evaluation of References to Christian Spirituality
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378 pages