06.11.2019

Why is Spiritual Leadership Necessary?

By David Papa
David Papa

Recently I was working with 60 leaders in a large multi-national organization for 4 days. One of these afternoons, a few of the leaders started expressing some concerns. “How can we implement these ideas if our managers aren’t here in the training?” “How will I find time to change my behavior when I am already overloaded?” Good questions. And then one of the youngest leaders in the room, Amol, raised his hand and said something that stopped the discussion.

“No one is going to come rescue you.”

Amol spoke at a measured pace, his voice was loud, he was gesturing with his whole body, every head was turned in his direction. He continued.

“Your leadership is your own responsibility. You have to decide to use the models yourself. You have to decide to change because of you. You will wait for other people or different circumstances forever, it has to be our choice, it has to come from us. No one will come. We have to be ones.”

The room literally broke into applause. Yet he did not say something new or something they did not know already. So why was it so powerful? What did he do? What leadership style was he using? What leadership technique did he employ? What trick did he use?

No tricks, no techniques, and no styles. He was speaking from the part of himself deeper than tricks and techniques. He spoke these few sentences directly from his Human Spirit, his truth in this heart moving out of him into the environment. And it changed the entire room. This is Spiritual Leadership.

We all know there is a better way. There is a better world we all know is possible. But how do we get there when we don’t know the answer, when we don’t know how it will turn out, when it hasn’t been tried before, when there is no “evidence” because it’s so brand new, when we aren’t even sure what we are trying to get to?

All of those “problems” are problems of the nervous mind. The mind uses information from the past to make decisions, but as Einstein has said, we cannot find the answer in the same thinking that led us into these problems. We all have access to something deeper than the mind that knows what is right, that can guide our energy forward. This the Inner You, your True Self. We need this level of consciousness to solve our challenges. We need Spiritual Leadership.

This doesn’t require a big speech or a dramatic moment. The essence of Spiritual Leadership is how you are Being. How you show up and respond in each moment big or small? Will you respond in the old way, or will you respond with love, power, and truth, like Amol did?

The reason more of us don’t step into this part of ourselves all the time is because the tools we’ve been given so far are tools of the mind. They are great, and also have their limits. To move into the next phase of our existence on this planet we need tools of the spirit. Believe it or not, science happens to agree.

All the major research into engagement, happiness, and human needs in the last several decades ends up pointing to the same seven key needs for humans to thrive. When these seven parts of us light up we have access to our whole self which is more expansive and deeper than what we are used to. Our perspective widens, our focus sharpens, and we have the strength to unleash our truth.

These seven key areas can be applied directly to leadership. This is exactly what we have done in our program, Digital Chieftain. If you have some stagnation or disengagement in your workplace, if you are not doing your most creative and best work, you can bet that one or more of these areas is out of whack. We call them the 7 Levels.

Rate Your Ability To Create Each of the Following for You and the People Around You:


1 is very poor. 10 is perfect.

Level 1: Safety

At work this looks like trust and security. Do you trust your team? Do you trust your leaders? How much do they trust you? Do you know how to create psychological safety? Do you lead others in doing so?

Level 2: Creativity

At work this looks like experimentation and play. How often do you set up and run experiments? How often do you use play to create completely new solutions? Do you have space to completely fail, which is required for created something new? Do you give this to others?

Level 3: Power

At work this looks like agency and autonomy. Do you believe you have the power to massively influence the environment around you? Do you exercise that power? Do you help others see the power they have? Do you give others complete control over their own work?

Level 4: Love

At work this looks like appreciation and belonging. Do you feel you are in the perfect fit for you? Do you feel your unique skills and strengths are seen, honored, used, and rewarded? Do you receive appreciation and gratitude regularly and often? Do you do this for other people?

Level 5: Self-expression

At work this looks like speaking your truth and using your strengths. Can you describe your 3 top strengths in one sentence each right now? Can you do this for others? Are you willing to dive into hard conversations with compassion? Do you stand up for what you truly believe no matter the consequence? Are you able to handle and express emotions, what is your EQ? Do you encourage others to do so by example?

Level 6: Insight

At work this looks like an environment of constant progress and constant learning. Are you mapping and celebrating every small win? Are you constantly asking the question what’s next and reaching in that direction? Are you connected with your intuition to create a new vision for what is possible? Are you at your edge of knowing so that you must learn by moving forward into the unknown? Are you doing this for others?

Level 7: Spirit

At work this looks like meaning, purpose, and a bigger cause. Can you easily explain how your daily work makes someone’s life better? Does that explanation light you up? Can you connect each of your daily tasks to this bigger cause? Do you speak about this regularly and use this bigger cause to make decisions, hire people, start new projects, or influence team meetings? Do you encourage others to do so?

If you haven’t found the spiritual leader inside you yet, chances are it’s because one of more of these areas is lacking for you. Here is how you can use this. Pick one of these areas and start giving it in your behavior. Start modeling it with behavior in your work context. The best way to get something is to give it. The energy at the level you choose will rise in you and come through you and you will see a change. The explanations above will give you some ideas for where to start with new behaviors.

If you are already an 8 out of 10 in all these areas, then we salute you. You are a spiritual leader. You are already helping create the better world we know is possible. You are what we refer to as a Digital Chieftain.

Love, David

PS - If you want to learn about how we teach these ideas in organizations, drop us a line.