Monday, November 17, 2008

International Leadership Association Conference

I returned yesterday from the International Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California. This year's theme was "Global Leadership: Portraits of the Past, Visions for the Future." I had the privilege to present two papers on some of my current research in the recovery of a Biblical and values-based approach to Leadership:

"Towards an Indigenous, Values-based Leadership Approach in Southern Africa": Recent studies have highlighted the desperate need for indigenous, innovative, values-based leadership approaches in Southern Africa. This emerging, post-industrial paradigm of leadership has helped South Africans to start thinking of leadership as something that is done in community instead of the actions--and responsibility--of one privileged individual.

"The Turn to Spirituality and Historic Understandings of Spiritual Leadership."
The presenter will use Kees Waaijman’s matrix for defining spirituality to explore and discuss examples of spiritualities that include leadership as part of their inner values. Two established schools of spirituality, as they relate to spiritual leadership, will be discussed: the asceticism of early Egyptian monasticism and the kenotic mysticism of St. Francis of Assisi.

I was encouraged to see how many researchers and scholars are willing to explore the moral, if not spiritual base for leadership. Many new possibilities arose from these meetings. I remain deeply grateful for the opportunity to work and learn with these fellow-seekers.

Another treat was to work with Jan Spencer on a paper for this conference entitled:
"St. Francis of Assisi and Spiritual Leadership: Integrating Ancient Insights with Contemporary Practice for Greater Leadership Effectiveness."
Spirituality in the workplace is integrated with an historical/practical view of the life of St. Francis of Assisi in order to provide specific examples of how leaders lead an organization that ascribes to Jody Fry’s spiritual leadership theory and model. Each of the traits identified in spiritual leadership theory are defined—transcendent vision, hope/faith, altruistic love, calling, membership, and outcomes—and then discussed in terms of Francis’ example of spiritual leadership. Although 800 years separate Francis from modern research involving workplace spirituality, his inner life transformation and subsequent experiences involving the establishment of the Franciscan Order promote a dialogue about how workplace spirituality should be approached as well as what it will take in the life of the modern-day leader to enable spiritual leadership to function effectively.

Jan's poster presentation was one of the most beautiful and aesthetically moving ones I have seen in years.