Spirituality Movement In Business Commerce Essay


Spirituality is not restricted to the religious arena nor to social service. It is making its presence felt in the realm of business too. Smarter enterprises are finding creative methods to rope in spirituality into the workplace. A new attitude is emerging towards the workplace as a place to fulfill one's deeper desires and purpose.

The buzz-word of today's business houses is about triple bottom line-a commitment to 'People, Planet and profit'. It clearly means that employees and environment are as important as economics (3Es: Employees, Environment, and Economics). Leadership pundits would say it's all about bringing spirituality and spiritual values into workplace. Corinne McLaughlin (2004) echoed the above views in the article titled : 'Spirituality and Ethics in HR'1.

The concept of 'Spiritual Leadership' in business has a wide range of perspectives. Spirituality in business is 'multi-dimensional' as spirituality in personal life is. The buoyancy of spirituality or spiritual feeling can be experienced by leaders through different ways ( actions ) as reported by some to Peter Pruzan et al., (2007)2. The broad dimensions of 'spiritual leadership' detailed in this treatise are cited below :

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Looking and listening within4

Live it and Serve5




Balance and grace9

In another compendium, edited by Carolyn Barker AM and Alexandra Payne (2007)10; leaders from diverse back-grounds e.g., Academia, Industry, Social Activism and Theology have contributed articles stressing the following spiritual dimensions.


Heart-based leadership12

Love, Joy and Humanity13

Market as God and work as Religion14

Finding truth in career15

Workplace as a caring community16

Spirituality and love at work17

Jack canfield et al. (2006)18 edited and published a book titled "Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work". The book contains the stories / experiences explaining the spiritual nuances in the workplace occurrences, as reported by employees of different organizations. The themes of the different stories are grouped under the following headings :

Love at work


The Power of Acknowledgement

Service : Setting New Standards.

Following Heart (i.e. following one's Heart)

Creativity at work

Overcoming Obstacles


In his seminal work, Moid Siddiqui (2005)19 mentions the following qualities for leadership effectiveness :


The Power of Purpose


The Practice of Virtue

The Power of Awareness

Ability to See the Big Picture

The Perfect Balance

Knowing Cosmic Truths

Humility as a 'Leadership Trait'

Following the Law of Karma

Ethics and Integrity

Purification of the Soul

Corporate Mysticism


Holistic Perspective

Belief in a Higher Power .

Kenneth Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale (1988) co-authored a book titled : "The power of Ethical Management"20 which stressed the need of the below mentioned leadership qualities for effectiveness of organizations :

Clear Conscience / Purpose

Balanced Self-esteem




Further, the duo pointed out that today's business conditions require the emergence of a 'new leadership paradigm' which is 'high on principles'. They have also quoted the saying of Konosuke Matsuhita, Chairman of the Matsuhita Electric Company : "My primary job is to model love. I am the soul of this company. It is through me that our organization's values pass"21.

In their international best seller, "In search of Excellence", Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman JR (2002)22 , inter alia speak of "Hands-On, Value-Driven" Companies which rose to the position of eminence. After pains-taking research, they have come to the conclusion that values are at the core of excellent performing companies. They aver that clarifying the value system and breathing life into it are the greatest contributions a leader can make23.

In the pioneering work, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", Stephen R. Covey (2004)24 covers the following principles :

Personal vision

Personal leadership

Personal management

Interpersonal leadership

Empathetic communication

Creative cooperation

Balanced Self-renewal.

Stephen covey's thesis revolves round the process of internalization of correct principles for enduring success and happiness. He further cites that the great psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow, towards the end of his life, kept 'Self-transcendence' ahead of his theorized highest need of 'Self-actualization'25. Abraham Maslow (1943) arranged the progression of human needs in a 'hierarchical form' from the lowest to the highest. "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" is placed at Appendix 3.

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Deepak Chopra (2000), in his masterpiece26 , "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success', explains the following 'Spiritual Laws' for success in life :

The Law of Pure Potentiality

The Law of Giving

The Law of 'KARMA' or Cause and Effect

The Law of Least Effort

The Law of Intention and Desire

The Law of Detachment

The Law of "DHARMA" or Purpose in Life

As per the author, true success is the experience of the miraculous and is the result of unfolding of the 'Divinity' within oneself 27.

Management by Conscousness28 is an anthology and is edited by GP Gupta (2004). It deals with some of the spiritual approaches of 'Leaders' for 'Business Management'. The volume contains articles on the following topics.

Business and Spirituality.

The Yogic Approach to Management.

Management by Intuition.

Consciousness Approach to Business Management.

The Philosophy of Management (The East and The West).

Human Values in Management.

The Spirituo-technical Approach to Management.

The common thread that courses through different articles cited above is the recognition of Divinity in 'MAN' (The first part of the word 'Manager') and utilizing the 'Spiritual' element for individual, group, and organizational effectiveness. It is evident that 'Soulless Management Practices' adopted by most of the organizations (i.e. their leaders) are resulting in the following maladies to the person at work29.


Gastric complaints


Heart ailments

Mental disorders like hyper anxiety, neurosis, depression, suicidal tendency etc.

Swami Someswarananda, in his book "Business Management: The Gita way"30 speaks of two basic types of leadership, viz., the 'Artificial Leadership' and the 'Natural Leadership'. Artificial leaders bank upon factors external to them i.e., position, rank in hierarchy, academic degrees, authority etc; whereas natural leaders depend more on their 'inner qualities'31. The natural leadership of the author corresponds to the paradigm of 'Spiritual Leadership'.

Jack Hawley (2008)32 explores the power of Dharmic Management and explains that the leadership effectiveness, to a large extent, depends upon ' living with integrity'. The book consists of the following five parts33:

Respiriting: Reawakening to spirit in management and life.

Revering: Love and Reverence in work and life.

Repowering: Realigining Beliefs, Thoughts, and Being.

Re Charactering: Strengthening Personal and Organizational Integrity.

Reinspiring: The Spiritual Core of leadership.

Spirit, Truth, Character and Integrity are shown as essential elements necessary to rekindle life and meaning in today's unpredictable world.

Contemporary management thinkers like Peter Senge (1990)34 opined, "In these times of unprecedented global stresses, leaders of all sorts need to achieve deeper levels of clarity and connection with nature and their higher selves than traditionally required, in order to do business as usual. So, it is not surprising that many are renewing serious study of ancient wisdom traditions of all sorts, including timeless texts like the "Bhagavad Gita".

As stated by Peter Senge above, some leaders and leadership experts explored the spiritual principles contained in the religious literature they are familiar with in their books, and the following are the examples:

Kapil Kakar (2010)35 tried to unravel the Secrets of Success through 'Bhagavad Gita'.

Swami Sadashiva Tirtha (2009)36 wrote a commentary on 'Bhagavad Gita' which deals with secrets of attaining inner peace and harmony of the the seeker.

Pujan Roka (2008)37 examined the relevance of 'Bhagavad Gita' to Effective Leadearship.

C. Gene Wilkes(2008) 38 dwells on the Principle of 'Servant Leadership' from the life of Jesus Christ.

(v) Lorin Woolfe (2008)39 offers leadership lessons from dozens of biblical figures, illuminating their ability to face and overcome extraordinary challenges.

Some authors speak about Values and Ethics as the foundation on which modern business organizations are to be run. They believe that such a foundation can only lead to sustainable competitive advantage of the business enterprises. Following are some of the examples:

(i) Bani P Banerjee (2005) 40 makes out a strong case for ethical corporate governance by means of critical examination of both eastern and western ethical systems.

(ii) S.K.Chakraborty (2003) 41 argues that values are as germane as skills for the effectiveness of leaders/managers in industrial and commercial organizations.

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(ii) Manuel G.Velasquez (2002)42 discusses a wide range of issues connected with 'Business Ethics' viz., Ethics and Business, The Market and Business, Ecology and Business, Consumer and Business and Employee Issues and Business.

(iv) S.K. Chakraborty (2000)43 provides a perspective of vedantic ethical vision for managerial and corporate ethical morality.

Richard Bellingham and Julie Meek (2004)44 attempt to show how, 'Spiritual Leadership' can help in transforming 'Dysfunctional Organizations' into 'Healthy Communities'.

Professional / Trade Journals also carry articles/research papers about the concepts of Spirituality applied to leadership theories / practices, sporadically. Some of such themes/articles are cited below to bring out the range of topics touched by the contemporary researchers and industry leaders.

Mid-life soul searching, corporate downsizing, quest for stability in an unstable world, inclination toward holistic living, global spiritual renaissance, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) movement, change in organizational structures, and individual spiritual awakening in the organizations are the important factors operating in the context of leadership (C.Vijay Chandra Kumar, 2005)45.

Leaders/Managers need qualities which are beyond 'Emotional Intelligence' and higher in nature for organizational effectiveness. 'Sthitaprajnata' (Settled Intelligence) and 'Nishkama Karma'(Settled Action) are the tools for such accomplishment (GRK Murthy, 2004)46.

Leaders shall bank upon Buddhi47 (discrimination)and Bhavana48 (Divine mode of thinking) and become Sthitaprajna49 (a person of settled intelligence) and Yukta Purusha50 (A person moved/motivated by the 'Divine Will'). The concept of 'Emotional Intelligence' developed by Daniel Goleman is compatible with that of 'Sthitaprajna' propounded in the Bhagavad Gita (JM Ovasdi,2004)51.

Consciousness and thereby one's capacity for change can be expanded irrespective of the limitations imposed by education, experience, authority and designation (Ajit R Telang, 2004)52.

'Unethical business practices' are the causes of many a 'corporate collapse' e.g. ENRON, WorldCom, Global Trust Bank etc., and 'there is a pressing need to revitalize 'Value Based Strategies' for Corporate Success (Radha Mohan Chebrolu, 2006)53.

Nimbleness and capacity for change are the critical characteristics for effective functioning of modern-day business organizations and those in-charge of the Institutions shall be Entrepreneurs (who create new business), Managers (who grow and optimize the business), and leaders (who can transform them at critical inflection points).'Zeitgeist Leadership' is the one needed for new millennium and 'Zeitgeist' is veering towards 'stakeholder delight' than 'shareholder delight' (Anthony J.Mayo and Nitin Nohria, 2005)54.

Authenticity (maintenance of identity) in terms of sincerity, honesty, and integrity on one-hand and the ability to change like chameleons (to suit the situations and the followers) on the other are the two great characteristics needed for 'great leadership' (Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones, 2005)55.

Philosophy of leadership, personality and or style of management are not so much important as compared to 'Internal Action Logic' i.e., how a leader interprets and reacts to the followers/surroundings when his/her power or safety is challenged. Self-awareness can affect movement toward effective action logics. Leaders can be classified into seven categories viz., Opportunists, Diplomats, Experts, Achievers, Individualists, Strategists and Alchemists. The former three types give 'below average performance' whereas the latter four types give 'medium to high performance' (David Rooke and William R. Tobert, 2005)56.

Leadership is a frame of mind one tends to adopt when facing a significant challenge. The transformative issues to be addressed are whether one is results centered, internally directed (values driven), other focused (putting collective good above one's needs), and externally open (receptive to outside stimuli that signal need for change). Leadership is about fundamental stance or state of mind (Robert E.Quinn, 2005)57.

Leadership effectiveness springs from the qualities of humility, ferocious resolve, tendency to give credit to others, and assigning balance to oneself. By following these tenets, leader's own life and all those lives of others he/she touches will be better (Jim Collins, 2005)58.

Research in the fields of 'Neuroscience' and 'Stress Management' prove that tools like 'Meditation' and 'Alternating Between Most Productive Stress Level Engagement and Total Disengagement' (by doing something utterly unrelated like going for a walk, taking a shower etc.) lead to quietude of the brain. Creative Insights/Breakthroughs are the results of such a state of calmness (Herbert Benson, 2005)59.

True Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) lies in recognizing corporate social opportunities (CSOs) and achieving Corporate Social Integration (CSI). Companies can achieve commercial success in ways that honor ethical values and respect people, communities and the natural environment. The moral calculus involved in 'Sustainable Development' is: meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. CSR shall not be viewed as "cosmetic" exercise (Michael E.Porter and Mark R.Kramer, 2006)60.

High Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) alone is insufficient to the task of leadership. Emotional Intelligence (ability to accurately perceive and manage one's own and other's emotions), measured in terms of Emotional Quotient (E.Q.) is much more important. Emotional Intelligence can be learned (Daniel Goleman, 2004)61.

Seeking 'frank feedback' and having 'compassion for the people' are the essential requirements of 'Excellent Leadership' (Andrea Jung, 2004)62.

Leaders shall have a high degree of 'Cognitive Intelligence' (measured in terms of I.Q.) and 'Emotional Intelligence' (measured in terms of E.Q.). In addition, they shall have the capacity to monitor and control strong but subliminal biases that can skew their decision-making (Howard Book, 2004)63.

Sakam Karma (Attached Involvement in Actions) generates dissipative mental fever for the karta (doer) and produces spurious results. On the Contrary, Nikshkam Karma (Detached Involvement in Actions) prevents stress and burn-out and achieves excellent results. Hence Leaders shall be 'Karmayogis' (who does work as a sacrifice) performing 'Nishkam Karma'. Even the 'Entire Nature' as a whole functions on the Nikshkam Karma (NK) Principle and Sakam Karma (SK) is indicative of dissonance of human action from 'Nature's Work' (Debangshu Chakraborthy and SK Chakraborty, 2006) 64.

Helping others to be successful, continuous learning, treating others as one wants them to treat him/her, respecting cultural diversity and behaving with integrity are the cardinal principles for success of the leader and his / her team (Malcolm Broomhead, 2007)65.


The Contemporary "Leadership Field" is an "American Product" - An American seed planted in American soil and harvested by American Scholars, Educators and Consultants (Barbara Kellerman, 2004)66.

The unbridled materialist ethos of United States of America had produced many a 'Sole Leadership Models' in the past. Leader's Personality Traits, Attitudes, Behaviors, Skills, Knowledge, Style, Followers, Situations and host of other factors were researched to prescribe 'Leadership' concepts. Leaders were thought to be grand men, gifted people, visionaries, charismatic persons, transformational heroes - who can, by all means (including 'people') produce and maximize shareholder wealth. In the process, they too can multiply their wealth, pamper their egos, stand tall amongst others, ride on the shoulders of the followers, and yet get branded as 'Saviors of Society'.

Though Leadership practices based on such concepts increased society's wealth, developed the economy, helped the Country to raise to the position of pre-eminence and predominance over the rest of the world, they also produced the following ill-effects:

Intense competition amongst leaders and their organizations as if they are warring factions (e.g., launching campaign wars, price wars etc.).

Draining of energies and vitality of the leaders and their followers leading to disequilibrium and disease of the body, mind, and spirit.

Wastage of the Nation's Wealth.

Depletion of Natural Resources.

Damage of the 'Environment'.

Sense of insecurity amongst the leaders and their followers, and the conflicting organizations they represent.

Frequent recessions of the economy.

Drop in overall productivity, quality, and employee engagement levels.

Loss of markets and market-share to the rival Japanese companies which are more humane and caring to their employees and other stakeholders.

Absence of meaning and purpose in life etc.

'Cause-Effect-Cause' is a cycle. 'Sole Leadership Models' are the cause for such ill-effects. The effects became a cause for 'soul searching' and the resultant is the emerging paradigm of 'Soul Leadership' or 'Spiritual Leadership'. Spirituality movement gained momentum in the United States of America.

A proliferation of book titles reflects a growing national movement to bring spiritual values into the workplace.

The following are the titles of some such books, other than those cited under the previous topic (i.e.,2.1: Spirituality Movement in Business and Its Different Perspectives):

The soul of Business,

Liberating the Corporate Soul,

Working From the Heart,

The Stirring of Soul in the Workplace,

Jesus CEO,

What would the Buddha do at work?,

Spirit at Work,

Redefining the Corporate Soul,

The Corporate Mystic,

Leading with Soul, etc.

There are several Journals/Websites and associations based on spirituality at work, and the following is the illustrative list:

Business Spirit (website: www.bizspirit.com/bsj/index.html)




The Professional Association for People Involved with Spirituality in the Workplace (ASAW) and its website : www.spiritatwork.org

Institute for Research on Unlimited Love and its website: www.unlimitedloveinstitute.org

Avodah Institute, a faith-in-the-workplace group of Business Leaders and Senior Executives ('Avodah' is a Hebrew word meaning both 'work' and 'worship').

Spirit in Business.

The European SPES (Spirituality in Economic and Social Life) Forum.

The Association for Spirit at work.

The Baha'i Business Forums.

Special interest group on 'Management, Spirituality, and Religion' at the Academy of Management in U.S.A.

Spiritual Unfoldment Society (SUS) In the 'World Bank'.

Besides the above, the prestigious American Management Association (AMA) holds conferences on the theme of profiting from values-based corporate culture and to find out ways and means to tap into the dimensions of 'Spirituality and Ethics' as critical components for success.

Thus 'spirituality movement' is beginning to transform Corporate America from the 'inside-out'. Growing number of business leaders / managers want their spirituality to be more than just faith and belief: they want it to be practical and applied. They want to bring their whole selves to work : body, mind and spirit integrated. Many business people are finding that the bottom line can be reinforced by adopting value-based leadership practices. They can do well in business by being good (to the stakeholders / society) - that is what they are convinced about now.

Across U.S.A. and Europe, people increasingly want to bring a greater sense of meaning and purpose into their work-life. They want their work to reflect their 'Personal Mission' in life. Many business organizations are finding the most effective way to bring Spiritual Values into workplace: that is to clarify the company's Vision and Mission, and to align it with a higher purpose and deeper commitment to serve both 'Customers' and 'Community'.


Researchers point to several key factors for the upsurge of 'Spirituality' at workplace and they are as follows:

Corporate downsizing and greater demand on remaining workforce, which created too much of stress and tiredness to be creative.

Globalization of markets which needed more creativity, innovation, and out-of- the-box thinking.

Awakening of human Psyche and craving for a greater sense of meaning and purpose in the work-life.

Need for instantaneous (spontaneous) decision making (by Leaders/Managers) in a turbulent, uncertainty ridden, information and services dominated economy.

Emphasis on building better relationships with customers, employees, and other stakeholders of the business.

Priority shift of the best talent, from 'mere fatter salaries' to 'culture of the organizations that reflect their inner values; provide opportunities for personal development and community service'.

Prolonged working hours which leave no/less time available for religious/spiritual activities.

Inner urge of the people for the public expression of their faith, and the satisfaction desired therefrom.

Presence of more women in the workplace, which tends to nurture 'Spiritual Values' better.

Occupation of higher echelons of business organizations by 'baby-boomer' generation; as boomers begin to fear their own mortality and are not satisfied by 'rank-materialism'.

According to a 2011 'Gallup Poll', 91% of Americans said that they have belief in 'GOD' or a 'Universal Spirit'; and nearly 50% said that they talked about their religious faith in the work place that day (in the past 24 hours).


Many people use prayer at work, for the following reasons:

For guidance in decision-marking.

To prepare for difficult situations, when the leaders/managers/ others are going through a tough time.

To give thanks for something good (that has happened).

Timberland shoes CEO Jeffrey B Swartz uses his 'prayer book' and religious beliefs to guide business decisions and company policy, often consulting his 'rabbi'67. Kris Kalra, CEO of BioGenex uses the Hindu holy text, the Bhagavadgita (Song of God)68 to steer his business out of problems/troubles.

The American Stock Exchange has a Torah69 Study Group; Boeing has Christian, Jewish, and Muslim prayer groups; and Microsoft has online prayer service. Wheat International Communications in Reston, Virginia has 'morning prayers' open to all employees.

In some of the companies in the U.S.A., services of freelance 'Chaplains' are being used to promote the importance, and practice of prayer in company decisions, and enhancing the commitment to excellence. The leaders of such companies are emulating Jesus Christ's example of focusing on people, and not things (goals). "Do unto others in the workplace as you would have them do unto you" is what these are advocating and striving for.

In addition to prayer and study groups, the following spiritual practices also are adopted at several companies:


Centering exercises such as deep breathing,

Visioning exercises,

Active deep listening,

Using intuition and inner guidance in decision-making,

Making intention and action congruent, and

Building shared values.

Business Owners/Leaders are unhesitatingly asserting that their business success, in many cases, is attributable to 'acting on their intuition'.

'Lotus' founder and CEO Mitch Kapor practices 'Transcendental Meditation' (TM)70 and named his company after a word for 'enlightenment'71. Apparel Manufacturer Patagonia provides yoga classes for employees on their breaks, as does Avaya Telecommunications. A 'Spiritual Unfoldment Society' has been meeting regularly at the 'World Bank' for the past few years, with lectures on topics such as a 'Meditation' and 'Reincarnation'.

Companies such as 'Evian Spring Water' have successfully used the concepts of 'Spirituality' in their advertising even e.g., 'Your body is the temple of your spirit'. The Service Master Company with six million customers worldwide puts its Spiritual Values up-front in its 'Annual Report'. It starts with a biblical quote : " Each of us should use whatever gift he/she has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms".


Organizations have started realizing that people (employees) are the most important resource, and the ultimate competitive advantage hinges on the quality of the human resource acquired, retained, and developed. Increasing number of business people find that the key area for applying Spirituality is in how employees are treated. Southwest Airlines, one of the few airlines staying profitable since the 9/11 terrorist attack in U.S.A., says, "People are our most important resource". Company policy is to treat employees like family members, knowing that if they are treated well, they in turn will treat customers well. Anita Roddick, founder of 'The Body Shop International' with stores all over the world, purposely built a soap factory near Glasgow, Scotland because it was an area of high demoralization. She made a spiritual decision to employ the unemployable and put 25% of the net profits back into the community and she said, " This is what keeps the soul of company alive". "The Men's Warehouse", one of Fortune Magazine's 100 best Companies to work for, supports homeless men in reentering the job market (i.e., helping the helpless).

Tom Chappell, CEO of "Tom's of Maine" which produces soaps and toothpastes stays mindful of profit and common good by giving away 10% of its pre-tax profits to charities. The company gives employees four paid hours a month to volunteer for community service, and uses all natural ingredients that are good for environment. "Saturn Auto Manufacturing" says that the key to their success is their experiment in 'Corporate Democracy' and 'Participatory Governance'. Empowered and Self-directed teams make most company decisions.

'Spiritually-oriented' materials on personal change have been used in employee training for a long time at the Bank of Montreal. Boatman's - First National Bank, in Kansas city regularly provides 'Spiritually-oriented training' for its top Executives.

Managers and Union Workers of Southern California Con Edison attend sessions called 'The Heart Shop' with pianist Michael Jones to cultivate compassion, empathy for each other, creativity/innovation, and a new 'Intelligence of the Heart'. Boeing set up a series of week-long training programs with poet David Whyte for its 'Top Executives' to unleash finer feelings, make them pro-risk (able to take risks) and keep them excited and open for change - instead of being horrified by/about it.

NYNEX Corporation established an office of 'Ethics and Business Conduct' to encourage employees to live by a set of core principles/values: Quality, Ethics, and Caring for the individual etc. This new focus led to increase in profits, productivity, and product service quality. They in-turn affected the way the company is perceived by customers and other stakeholders (i.e. Brand Image).


Protection of the environment and the maintenance of 'Ecological Balance' has become an important issue. Though modern industry has provided unequalled material prosperity, it has also created unparalleled environmental threats to the current populace as well as future generations. Hence many companies started seeing their commitment to the environment as their 'Spiritual Mission'.

A 1995 'Vanderbilt University Analysis' found that in 'eight out of ten cases', low polluting companies financially outperformed their dirtier competitors. Ray Anderson, Founder of Interface Carpets; the world's largest commercial carpeting manufacturer, trained thousands of employees in environmental sustainability with the goal of tapering off the pollution level to 'Zero Percent' in the coming few years.

'Home Depot' has introduced a line of wood products grown through 'sustainable forestry practices'. British Petroleum renamed itself 'Beyond Petroleum' and it is developing alternative versions/forms of fuel, and lobbying governments, for reversal of 'Climatic Change'. Starbucks Coffee has partnered with 'Conservation International' to work with its former suppliers in Mexico to promote 'water and soil conservation' and reduction of 'chemical fertilizers and pesticides'.

At Hewlett-Packard, each product has a steward whose job is to minimize its ecological footprint by reducing packaging, toxic materials in the product, and increasing recyclability/reusability. Mitsubishi Electric, America specified that their suppliers could not provide them with paper/timber from old-growth forests. Once they set the example, almost 500 other companies followed their lead, and together they saved four million acres of forest.

In the year 1986, The Caux Round Table (CRT) based in Minnesota, pioneered a list of principles for business, an international code of ethical values formulated by 'Senior Business Leaders'; from Japan, Europe, United States, and Canada. The CRT principles are modified in the years 1994 and 2009 and they deal with detailed stakeholder management guidelines. The 'United Nations (UN) Global Compact' enjoys the support of the UN General Assembly and many National Governments including those of G8 (i.e., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom, and United States of America); and pledges its support to human rights, labor standards, environmental protection, and anti-corruption practices72.


Toward the end of 1992, a spiritual study group, christened as "Spiritual Unfoldment Society" (SUS)73 was started in the world bank with the following objectives:

Promoting 'Personal Transformation' through Self-knowledge, and understanding and awakening higher consciousness.

Providing a safe forum for the exchange of beliefs and ideas that promote spiritual awareness.

Encouraging the integration of higher consciousness into every aspect of life.

Seeking to create within the 'World Bank' a consciousness of love and understanding that contributes toward transforming the way people interact with one another.

The 'Washington Post' featured the SUS in a magazine article and praised it as an institutional pillar for enlightenment74.

SUS instituted monthly meditation sessions, created special interest groups, held spiritual retreats, and published news-letters. In addition to the above, the World Bank sponsored an 'International Conference' to explore the link between 'Spiritual Values and Sustainable Development'.

The real significance of the Conference and of the Spiritual Unfoldment Society was that the Bank Staff now have permission 'to talk about spiritual values in development , and to bring their hearts and souls to work.'


As far as India is concerned it has not made much inroads into the 'Spirituality Trend' due to its quest for 'modernization', and overzealousness for 'secularism'.

It appears that Indian political as well as business leadership is exceedingly obsessed with the idea of secularism. In a haste to catch up with affluence of the west, the country has forgotten its original cardinal principles of spirituality. It is to be borne in mind that in social life, both the secular and spiritual instincts are vital needs. Responsible world opinion is increasingly veering towards the conclusion that it is the vitalized spiritual instinct which can transform even the aspiring secular nations. It is obvious that 'Indian Management Thought' is way behind the epochal turnaround in 'western management thought'.

India is a treasure-house of 'Spiritual Wisdom'. The Vedas75, Upanishads76, Itihasas77, and host of other spiritual treatises of Hindu Religion contain crest jewels of wisdom that can have profound impact, if applied properly in business organizations. Bhagavadgita (The Song of God)78 clarifies the perspectives of Jnana (Wisdom), Bhakti( Devotion) and Karma (Action) amongst several other issues of life, and its chief aim is Leadership Effectiveness.

Further, India is a melting pot of all religions and cultures. Apart from Hinduism; Buddha, Mahavira, and Guru Nanak established their religions and they too contain priceless principles which will have a direct bearing on leadership effectiveness. Christianity, Islam and other faiths of the world had come and long settled and became a part of Indian 'ethos'. Much wisdom can be obtained from them too, for developing the paradigm of 'Spiritual Leadership' and enlightening the leadership practices in business organizations.

Truly speaking, it is the case of 'poverty amidst plenty' in the 'Indian Context'. However, to redeem the situation some earnest efforts are taking place, in few quarters as cited below.

S.K.Chakaraborty was the Retired Professor and Founder Convener of the 'Management Centre for Human Values, Indian Institute of Management, Kolkata. The centre endeavors to transmit the message of 'Management By Values' (MBV) grounded in the Indian ethos to both Industry and Academia. It conducts in-house programs to the Leaders of Industry ranging from the Chief Executive down to manager's two or three levels below. Some progressive organizations like Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd., ((BHEL), Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOC), Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), Godrej & Boyce Ltd., Tata Iron and Steel Company Ltd. (TISCO), and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) are deputing their 'Senior Leaders / Managers' for such programs.

Swami Someswarananda is the chairman of Vivekananda Centre for Indian Management Indore, and Director of the Consortium Consultants, India. He is a leading exponent in Indian Management and is trying to evolve appropriate management styles based on ancient 'Indian Values and Wisdom'. He conducts in-house 'Management Development Programs' (MDPs) for the aspiring Companies. Some professional organizations like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Larsen & Toubro (L&T), Crompton Greaves (CG), Eicher Motors, and Kirloskar are evincing interest in pursuing such efforts.

Swami Ranganathananda of Ramakrishna Mission, Swami Bodhamayananda and other monks of Vivekananda Institute of Human Excellence, Hyderabad are also working for the cause of value-based management of personal and organizational lives.

Swami Sukhabodhananda and senior members of his Prasanna Trust, Bangalore are also spreading the message of spirituality for personal and organizational applications.

Ashoke Maitra, who was HR Director in the Times of India Group, founded : the 'Centre for Human Resource Development', providing consulting services in Human Capital Management and Organizational Development; and the 'Sri Ramakrishna International Institute of Management', devoted to Holistic Management Education and Training for working professionals. These Institutes are located at Mumbai.


Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the spiritual dimensions of an organic organization.CSR comes into play when the leaders look beyond the concept of "shareholder wealth maximization" and are concerned with "stakeholder wealth and welfare maximization". The stake holders are:


Business partners



Suppliers and vendors

The government

The public at large (Community).

In so doing the leadership is trying to take care of the triple bottom line of- People, Planet, and Profit.

Though India is one of the fast growing economies; socio-economic problems like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, hunger, lack of amenities (e.g., electricity, potable water etc.,) and discrimination against the down-trodden and the women are plaguing the country. As Swami Vivekananda said, and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Mahatma Gandhi) reiterated, "The service of Narayana (GOD) is through the service of Daridranaryana (the poor). Though Government's job it is to 'uplift the masses', the Business Houses worth their 'spirit' are also joining the fray and doing their best.

Business houses like the Tata Group, the Aditya Birla Group, and Indian Oil Corporation have been involved in serving the community since their inception. Hero Honda has set up 'Vocational Training Centre' for training women in tailoring, embroidery, and knitting, and the company helps such women to set up a production unit to stitch uniforms for 'Hero Honda' employees. Besides this, Hero Honda has started 'Adult Literacy Mission Scheme' and undertook the responsibility of performing marriages of underprivileged girls. Infosys, through its 'computers @classrooms' initiative; donated 2,567 computers to various institutions across India, since the launch of the program in January 199979.

The days of "Corporate Irresponsibility" are over. The public now expects companies to behave according to higher social standard. The business decision- making, in a growing number of companies is now linked to "ethical value compliance" along with "legal requirements" with respect to people, communities, and environment80.

The recent Government of India's directive, towards spending 2% of the three - year average profit for CSR activities , by the large companies, is a step in the right direction. Such a measure channelizes business profits back into the society (which helped the companies to make money) and helps the organizations' integration with it.


'Workplace Spirituality' is making great strides in the developed countries of the west and Japan. It is slowly catching up in India now. The current turbulent day corporations want and need people who are creative, independent and self-motivated. Leaders/Managers and their followers are now realizing that in order to give at the level of their highest productivity, they must be fully alive at physical, intellectual, emotional , and spiritual levels; and further they must be doing what they love (to do). The process indicates the metamorphosis, through which the organizations and the employees are undergoing. Further, it is natural that the concept of 'Spiritual Man' gains acceptance in the management theory and practice after the stages of: economic man, social man, and self-actualizing man. 'Spiritual Man' transcends the barriers of the small self (individual self) and becomes the Big SELF (Supreme Self), possessing "Universal Consciousness" and working for the "Good of the World".

From the 'Review of Literature', it is evident that an integrated, composite profile of a 'Spiritual Leader' is not made so far; and hence fresh insights from the spiritual perspective of the 'World Religions' are required to bridge the gap. The following topics need exploration to understand the mental make-up of 'Spiritual Leaders', their development, and their effectiveness potential :

Personality Traits of Spiritual Leaders.

Motives of Spiritual Leaders.

Attitudes and Beliefs of Spiritual Leaders.

Values and Behavior of Spiritual Leaders.

Communication and Styles of Leadership of Spiritual Leaders.

Self-Development of Spiritual Leaders.

Leadership Effectiveness of Spiritual Leaders.

Therefore, what remained unexplored is the profile of the Spiritual Leaders in terms of the personality traits, motives, attitudes and beliefs, values and behavior, communication and styles of leadership, self-development, and the areas (including measures) of leadership effectiveness. The Leader's inner world of thoughts and feelings, and the outer world of communications and actions, and the resulting effectiveness potential are not studied/researched methodically from an altogether 'Spiritual Angle'. The present research is taken up for the detailed exposition of the concepts and processes of Spiritual-based Leadership in business organizations with reference to the above parameters.


Spirituality is not confined to 'Religious Field'. It is exerting its influence in the domain of business also. Business Leaders' compulsive drive for 'profit maximization' is giving way to the concept of 'Triple Bottom Line' (TBL) i.e; People, Planet, and Profit. Economics, Ethics, and Spirituality are not treated as independent (unrelated) subjects by some of the modern managements of business. In fact, a sort of realization is dawning about the inter-connectedness and inseparability of the three disciplines for effective functioning of business organizations.

For the organizations to work on spiritual lines, it is imperative that their leaders shall be Spiritually-based and integrated. Though leadership as a process involves leaders, followers (subordinates), and the situation; leaders constitute the 'driving force' for organizational working. Therefore leaders must be forerunners, exemplars, and trend setters for any change process.

Some Spiritual-based leaders are trying to metamorphose the workplaces and the business philosophies to create an environment in which the ideal of pursuit of profit is not incongruent with the development of the people concerned, well-being of the society, and the nurture of the planet (Mother Earth). Spiritual Leadership in its truest sense does not stop there. It helps the leaders and their associates in their Self- realization, which is the highest goal of life.

Spiritual Leadership is about becoming, being and acting from the fount of spiritual consciousness for the good of the world. Spiritual Leaders need to acquire a different psychological composition, and an altogether different 'Spiritual Frame of Mind' for their world-view, action path, and work-goal. Subsequent chapters explore the determinants of Spiritual Leadership (in thought, word, and deed) in terms of the following:

Personality Traits of Spiritual Leaders.

Motives of Spiritual Leaders.

Attitudes and Beliefs of Spiritual Leaders.

Values and Behavior of Spiritual Leaders.

Communications and Styles of Leadership of Spiritual Leaders.

Self-Development of Spiritual Leaders.

Leadership Effectiveness of Spiritual Leaders.

Every Religion is a 'treasure trove' of Spirituality, when it is stripped off its 'Ritualistic' outer cover. It is another point that even the ritual itself, in someway helps the religious adherent for his/her spiritual development. Coming back to the point of spiritual knowledge and wisdom, all the religions of the world have enormous amounts of literature. But scrutiny of the abundance of entire religious literature is beyond the capacity of a single researcher. Hence representative sample of the world's four major religions i.e. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Buddhism (not written in the order of the size of the adherents) is taken; and their main texts: The Bhagavadgita, The Holy Bible, The Holy Quran and The Dhammapada are explored for gaining insights.

Next chapter deals with the general personality traits, task-related personality traits, and spiritual personality traits of business leaders. The former two types are from the prevailing management/leadership literature whereas the third type is generated from the spiritual literature of the scriptures chosen for the purpose of research