Spirituality and Leadership: An Empirical Review of Definitions, Distinctions, and Embedded Assumptions

The Leadership Quarterly, 16 (2005) 625-653

29 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2013

See all articles by Eric Dent

Eric Dent

Florida Gulf Coast University; Florida Gulf Coast University - Lutgert College of Business

M. Eileen Higgins

Frostburg State University

Deborah Wharff

University of Maryland University College (UMUC)

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Spirituality and its relationship to workplace leadership is a compelling issue for management practitioners and researchers. The field of study is still in its infancy and as such is marked by differences in definitions and other basic characteristics. Much of what has been written on this subject has appeared in general, rather than academic publications and consequently may lack rigor. The purpose of this study is to analyze known academic articles for how they characterize workplace spirituality, explore the nexus between spirituality and leadership, and discover essential factors and conditions for promoting a theory of spiritual leadership within the context of the workplace. An emergent process was used to identify and validate eight areas of difference and/or distinction in the workplace spirituality literature: 1.) definition, 2.) connected to religion, 3.) marked by epiphany, 4.) teachable, 5.) individual development, 6.) measurable, 7.) profitable/productive, and 8.) nature of the phenomenon. Eighty-seven scholarly articles were coded for each of these areas. Findings conclude that most researchers couple spirituality and religion and that most either have found, or hypothesize a correlation between spirituality and productivity. The emergent categories offer provocative new avenues for the development of leadership theory.

Keywords: Spirituality, Leadership, Organizations, Definition, Religion, Assumptions

Suggested Citation

Dent, Eric and Higgins, M. Eileen and Wharff, Deborah, Spirituality and Leadership: An Empirical Review of Definitions, Distinctions, and Embedded Assumptions (2005). The Leadership Quarterly, 16 (2005) 625-653, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2288038

Eric Dent (Contact Author)

Florida Gulf Coast University ( email )

10485 FGCU Blvd S
Ft. Myers, FL 33965-6565
United States

Florida Gulf Coast University - Lutgert College of Business ( email )

10485 FGCU Blvd S
Fort Myers, FL
United States

M. Eileen Higgins

Frostburg State University ( email )

Frostburg, MD 21532
United States

Deborah Wharff

University of Maryland University College (UMUC) ( email )

MD
United States

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