Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Spirituality A Leadership Style For Entrepreneurs

Author: Dr. Cheryl Cottle, Ed.D

Spirituality as a leadership style is a move away from the traditional autocratic leadership style that strives on command and control. We are seeing a movement towards a more collaborative -approach to leadership that is built upon team-approach and collaborative decision-making; where the team members' views, opinions, ideas and creativity are valued, respected and accepted. It's also inclusive and recognises diversity — diversity from many perspectives  including: knowledge acquisition, gender, race, social class, job position, age, sexual orientation, religion and culture.

Entrepreneurs, particularly women entrepreneurs are moving towards what is defined as the spiritual leadership style. This style of leadership is a movement away from the traditionally used model that operated within an hierarchical structured framework —  a model that was embraced by companies, businesses, organizations, corporations and government-based institutions. It is also reflective of an autocratic approach to leadership. It is the traditional model on which all businesses was founded. 

Spirituality as a leadership style augers a change in how management relates to their employees/team-members, customers or clients, and the many stakeholders that form part of their network. It also reflects how problems are solved, decisions are made, and strategic planning is arrived at. In the traditional approach these functions were made by a few considered the elites, but with the spiritual approach to leadership style we are seeing a more collaborative approach where participation is inclusive of everyone within the business/company or organization contributing to its success. 

In today's economies, we are seeing that the team approach is very important when decisions are to be made. This approach has become central to decision-making and functions within a more flattened organizational structure. It's a more egalitarian structure, whereby all the employees are valued for their intellectual capabilities and innovative ideas. This is evident as we see more organizations creating innovative cells within their organization comprising of their most creative employees who contribute to the knowledge resources of the company. Companies who are using this innovative strategy is expanding their competitive position in the marketplace. With the knowledge and innovations they create within, they are better able to position themselves to exploit the marketplace, thus expanding their "absorptive capacity".. 

Additionally, this type of management style facilitates greater motivation and incentives for employees to contribute. It allows greater employee's participation and fosters a feeling-of-belonging, commitment, loyalty and dedication. Spirituality as a management style does have a powerful effect on the culture of your business or company and transforms your business; becoming a place where we see people working together to achieve the goals of the company. There is open-communication, that exists, that is based on transparency and accountability. Also existing, is a high level of acceptance for risk-taking; and an environment where innovation and creativity is germinated and nurtured. What we also see in environments like these, is cooperation, collaboration and a culture that is devoid of internal politics. The spiritual leadership style is also grounded in a human-centered approach to management  a style that is people-focused, heart-centered and socially-oriented.

In companies, organizations or small business where a spiritual approach to management is practiced, there is greater equity in the distribution of its profit.  Salaries, profit sharing, and opportunities for promotion and overall mobility, are provided both laterally and horizontally. Employees or team-members who contribute to the generation of new ideas and knowledge creation are recognized and commemorated at acknowledgement and recognition events, and are also showcased for their contribution in the company's annual publications. Further, they receive opportunity to pursue higher learning, receiving full -funding support with very low interest rates, to not having to reimburse the sum: and are given time-off to facilitate their educational and professional advancement. And on returning to their job are given the opportunity to be "gurus" in their field, as well as opportunities for horizontal promotions. 

Organizations and companies that are heart-centered also include their employees in the profit that they make because they acknowledge the roles in its acquisition as a result employees are a part of the profit sharing. In addition, opportunities for promotions are fairly implemented, and as noted every employees has the opportunity to be recognized for their contribution at award ceremonies and in the company's newsletter, at the very least. 

As employers, you must be reminded that you should treat your employees with love, respect and compassion, and at the same time, you should extend that same treatment to your customers and everyone that you interact with,
 to grow and develop your business; and it is only by practicing a spiritual leadership style this can be achieved. It will guarantee their loyalty, commitment and dedication, and will also foster the type of relationship you have with them and further facilitating their social-connectedness they form with you, and your company. In addition, it will also foster a feeling-of-belonging that will ensure their commitment towards your product or services and the overall philosophy that underlies your business. 

Many entrepreneurs love to practice the command and control management style because that is the style we have worked with in the workplace for many years. It's what we see practiced in many organizations, whether it's businesses, corporations or government-based services. It is a leadership approach that gives you the feeling of power and a sense of authority. "It's my business attitude — that suggest "I am the boss", "I make the decision". While this approach to management may have worked in the past or was practical years ago  it has been recognized that it was limited in its human and social interaction. For ideas to be generated and new knowledge created, one person, regardless of his or her level of intelligence, imagination and innovation is not enough  more people will more likely create a lot more. As a result, we are seeing this shift. Remember a workplace is a community built on collaboration and team-work. It's a space where the intellectual capacity of your company or business works to ensure your growth and development, and sustainability. Be mindful that your employees also come to the table with valuable skills, knowledge, experiences, and resources that if managed properly will help in your bottom line. Respect them! Why have ten pot of gold and only utilize one? Can you not do more with more pots?

Do you think that a spiritual approach to leadership will work effectively for small women owned businesses? 

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