Spiritual Organanisation Marguerite Theron2


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Presentation at Phd class of 2009 Organisational Behaviour conference(UP)

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  • On an intuitive level the concept of a spiritual organisation appears to be a paradox. How is it possible for the “other-worldly, transcendental” spiritual realm to exist in a secular profit-making organisation?
  • the statement of Harman above appears idealistic and a bit naive as spiritual development seems unlikely to get you a year end bonus and seems incongruous with facts, figures and the financial bottom line. Yet organisational behaviour scholars and respected journals such as the Academy of Management and Journal of Organizational Change Management are spending considerable time, energy and effort on spirituality in organisations (Dent, Higgins & Wharff, 2005:631).
  • Spirit can be defined as the life force or “breath”; a “vital animating force” within individuals (Pfeffer, 2001:6). Spirit can also be used to describe “the general atmosphere of a place or situation and the effect that it has on people” (Wordweb, 2009). A culture, organisation or workgroup can be seen as having “spirit” or being “spirited” when the vitality and mood of the group is considered (Tichsler, Biberman & McKeage, 2002:206). A group of Blue Bull Currie Cup supporters can be described as “spirited” but not necessarily as spiritual . Kinjerski and Skrypnek (2004: 27) define “spirit at work” at both an individual and group level:
    *the individual spirit or “experience of employees who are passionate about and energised by their work, find meaning and purpose in their work, feel that they can express their complete selves at work , and feel connected to those with whom they work”;
    *an organisational culture that supports “autonomy, trust, cohesiveness, support, recognition, innovation and fairness through leadership and work processes”

  • Bennet (2001:164) offers a generic view on spirituality by describing it as “the answer to the questions what you believe in and what do you think life is all about? “. Spirituality is an extremely broad phenomenon as indicated by classical philosophical debate on meta-physics and existentialism (Stangroom, 2006:20; 40) inter-faith dialogue (Erricker, 2001:11-12); discourses on universal morality (Dalai Lama, 1996:73) and multiple spiritual paths (Zohar & Marshall, 2000:225). Spirituality extends to the arena of spiritual communion and cosmic rituals of renewal (Steiner, 2001:30); new age mysticism such as neo-paganism and urban shamanism (Possami, 2005:3) and at times runs the risk of being dismissed as resulting from an “other-worldly spatial delirium” (Berger, in Erricker, 2001:4).
  • Hicks (2002:387) reviewed 100 articles on workplace spirituality and identified eight clusters of terms frequently presented in definitions of spirituality. Although the terms identified are extensive they are by no means exhaustive and point to the multi-dimensional nature of spirituality.
  • There is a potential overlap between spiritual beliefs, religious beliefs and cultural beliefs and traditions. Acknowledging spirituality requires acknowledgement of religious diversity as well as cultural diversity. Mysticism lies at the heart of spirituality, culture and religion and involves a fascination with that which cannot be explained, discovering the unknown: reality revealed through mystical experiences and intuition. Recent developments in science and technology have created awe and wonder again enhancing mystical experiences or the connection between self, nature and something greater (Universe and cosmos; quantum physics and neuroscience). (King, 2001:16 –for relationship between religion, spiritual and mysticism) (Mitroff & Dentron, 1999:88-89) (Erricker, 2001:xv for relationship between culture and religion and spirituallity)
  • There is considerable debate about the difference between spirituality and religion at work. A number of scholars insist that spirituality is not religion and differs from religion in significant ways (Mitroff & Denton, 1999:88-89) and that organisational behaviour should concern itself with the study of spirituality because “spirituality unites while religion divides”. Opposing academic voices insist that it is not so easy to distinguish between spirituality and religion especially for religious employees and that in organisations that purport to be spiritual and are focussed on the whole person it is inconsistent to bring your spiritual self to work but leave your religious self at home (Cash & Grey, 2000; Hicks, 2002; Garcia-Zamor,2003). These authors suggest the importance of acknowledging diverse spiritual, religious and cultural views in the workplace. In the USA 95% of Americans say they believe in God (Dent et. Al. 2005:633) Local research (De Klerk, Boshoff and Van Wyk 2009 in press) found that 72.9% of managers (n=458) indicated a “strong” or “very strong” religious conviction.

    Table 2: Adapted from (Hicks) 2002:380-382 and Mitchell & Denton (1999:83-92) and Pursig (1974: 362).
  • Sources: Bavister & Vickers, 2008:242; Bennett, 2001:164-166; Hicks, 2002:380-382; Mitroff & Dentron, 1999:89-90
  • There is an overlap between spirituality, ethics and values but they are not identical constructs. Ethics is about doing the right thing and making moral choices (Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs, 2007:182). It is easier for a spiritual person to be ethical but ethics can exist independently. Ethics is a way of behaving that can be prescribed by organisations in a code of conduct (Garcia-Zamor, 2003:359). Ethical behaviour is required in order to demonstrate spirituality (Reave, 2005:659) and expression of care and concern for employees is an example of ethical and spiritual behaviour.
    Values: “what is liked, prized, esteemed, approved or enjoyed”; values form the basis of ideologies and determine the political, economical and social behaviour of people (Mbon, 1991:108). Values are our beliefs about that which is important to us (Coetzee & Roythone-Jacobs, 2007:202). Covey (1989:288) cautions that values are not principles and that even a gang of thieves can have values (1989:35). Reave (2005:655) reviewed 150 studies that link spiritual values and practices to effective leadership for example, integrity, honesty, respect for others, humility.
  • Religious based organisation: affiliated and run according to religious principles; usually based on one religion. For example Chick-fil-A has 1300 highly successful franchises in the USA and 2.3 billion in sales; the lowest turnover rate in the industry (5% compared to 60%). Christian based: bible study and prayer groups: Company run on biblical principles. Company mandate “Glorify God”. Risk: employment discrimination (Fry & Slocum, 2007:90).
    Evolutionary organisation: started out as religious but evolved to a more universal spiritual position
    Recovering organisation Promotes recovery from addiction, gambling, drug-abuse, over-eating, sex-addiction
    Uses the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the reference to a Higher Power to develop spirituality; may include regular businesses that use the principles of AA.
    Socially responsible: Strong spiritual principles or values that they apply directly to support and improve society or local communities – at times may have a strong external than internal focus:
    Values Based: Guided by principles, philosophies or values that are not aligned with spirituality or religion. For example Johnson & Johnson have altruistic values of respect, fairness, honesty, care, compassion that help to build a culture of trust (Fry & Slocum, 2007:87).

  • An attempt to restore balance:
    Awareness that the employee workforce may be in crises could be triggered by exposure to facts and figures on employee absenteeism, turnover rates or stress for example, an estimated 78% of employees in the USA say that work is their biggest source of stress (Farrell, 2005:543). This awareness can in turn trigger a move towards wellness interventions such as physical, psychological, social or spiritual interventions (Danna &Griffin, 1999:359; Farrell, 2005:543). For example Tichsler, Biberman and Mc Keage ( 2002:212) refer to 600 studies of Transcendental Meditation in organisations as a spiritual practice which has reduced physical, psychological symptoms and increased people’s ability to cope with large problems and stressors outside of their control (Tichsler, Biberman and Mc Keage, 2002:212).
    And findings Spiritual well-being related to psychological well-being (Temane & Wissing, 2006:592)
  • Fry & Slocum (2007:87) point to disturbing cases of greed, corruption, immoral and unethical behaviour by leaders of Enron, Arthur Anderson, Tyco International and Worldcom . They cite an example of a 210 million dollar severance package paid to Bob Nardelli by the board of Home Depot which further indicates greed and self-interest. Spiritual epiphanies experienced by an organisational leader may result in a counter-point reaction to the greed and corruption in others and the leaders aspire to integrate their personal spirituality with their work (p.89)
  • If the owner of a new business is spiritual: then he can create the mission statement and implement spiritual strategy and business practices from the start. Interstate batteries was founded in 1952 and has developed into 200 000 retail dealers: The mission statement of the company is “To glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries….. (Fry and Slocum, 2007:91).
    New leader: If a new leader is appointed with a strong spiritual focus he may revise the mission and value statement or re-emphasize the spiritual nature of meaning of what they do.
    Leader epiphany: when the current leader or CEO of an organisation has a spiritual epiphany (A moment of sudden understanding or revelation or even a divine manifestation – WordWeb 2009) this spiritual awakening causes personal transformation and results in a need for spiritual renewal at work (Dent et al. 2005:635). Spiritual awakenings can be as a result of personal crises or intense suffering in the company. The crises can be caused by actual trauma and death such as companies who were traumatized during the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre or by vicarious exposure (watching the suffering of those who are involved.) (Hazen, 2008:78).This can produce an existential crises of faith and meaning which may be resolved in a spiritual manner: moral purpose, support from outside the organisation , excellent leadership and creation of meaing through work (Hazen, 2008:82).
  • Spirituality reinforces sustainability by contributing to integrated performance and the triple-bottom line:Fry & Slocum, 2008:86-96

    Source: King & Lessidrenska, 2009:4;10-11; 183, 185
  • Source: Goman, 1991:16; 58 (adapted)
  • Source: Goman, 1991:16; 58 (adapted)
  • Spiritual Organanisation Marguerite Theron2

    1. 1. 1 The Spiritual Organisation Marguerite Theron 22/10/2009
    2. 2. The purpose of the spiritual organisation • “The purpose of the spiritual organisation is to support the spiritual development of employees, customers and other stakeholders and for the organisation to be an agent of change for positive good in the world “(Harman in Neal & Biberman, 2004:7). 2
    3. 3. Definitions • Spirit  breath, vitality, life force of individuals Atmosphere place and effect on people Vitality and mood of group • Spirit at work individual experience – employees passion, energy  group culture – trust, cohesiveness, fairness 3
    4. 4. Definition of Spirituality Spirituality is the answer to the questions what do you believe in and what do you think life is all about? (Bennet, 2001:164) 4
    5. 5. 5 Table 1: Clusters of terms identified in definitions of spirituality Virtue Morality Self- actualisation Wholeness Interconnect edness Meaning Emotion Life force Wisdom Values Self- fulfillment Holism Interdepend ence Purpose Passion Energy Discernment Peace Self- awareness Integration Inter- relationship Feeling Vitality Courage Truth Self- consciousne ss Integrity Cooperation Heart Life Creativity Freedom Self- discovery Authenticity Community Intrinsic motivation Justice Balance Teamwork Harmony Source:Hicks, 2002:387
    6. 6. Definition of Spirituality 3 main themes:  Energy force or life force Sense of unity with the universe Meaning in life (De Klerk, 2005:69) 6
    7. 7. Organisational Spirituality • An organisation can be regarded as being spiritual when it “recognizes that employees have an inner life that nourishes and is nourished by meaningful work that takes place in the context of community” (Ashmos & Duchon, 2000:134). • 7
    8. 8. Spirituality at work • Definition: • “The search for spiritual wholeness within the context of the workplace. It involves seeking to discover one’s true self, higher life purpose and meaning through one’s work activities and roles” Coetzee & Roythorne-Jacobs, 2007:201 8
    9. 9. Cultural Spiritual Religion Mysticism 9 Relationship with other constructs: culture, religion, mysticism
    10. 10. Spirituality vs. Religion Spirituality • Belief within all individuals • Internal focus • Goal: determine common principles, values and ethics • Beliefs about what is Good, True and Beautiful • Unites people Religion • Expressly stated; organized belief system • External focus, formal structure • Goal : salvation through one truth; one right way • Differentiates between groups of people who believe that only their Truth is absolute 10 Adapted from Hicks (2002:380-382 ); Mitchell & Denton (1999:83-92) and Pursig (1974: 362).
    11. 11. Spirituality and Religion: what do they have in common? • Beliefs about purpose and meaning • Underlying principle of hope and faith • Non-material ; beyond the physical • Transcends time • Service to others; community with others, betterment of society • Limit greed: money and power • Beliefs guide decision making • Ethics and values 11 Sources: Bavister & Vickers, 2008:242; Bennett, 2001:164-166; Hicks, 2002:380-382; Mitroff & Dentron, 1999:89-90
    12. 12. Relationship with other constructs: ethics and values 12 SpiritualityEthics Values Doing the right thing: moral choices Beliefs, that which is important or esteemed Spiritual leaders demonstrate ethical behaviour and authentic expression of spiritual values
    13. 13. Spiritual values of leaders  compassion , forgiveness, hope, perseverance (Dalai Lama, 1996:64)  integrity and honesty (Neal, 1997:121, Reave, 2005) respect for others, humility. Reave, 2005 altruistic love ; community well-being (Fry & Slocum, 2008, 89; Mbon, 1991:108)  Affiliative values: self respect; personal growth; responsibility; social rights; purposeful living; self discipline; personal integrity; fairness/justice; self- acceptance (Coetzee & Roythone-Jacobs, 2007:202) 13
    14. 14. Models of Spirituality in Organisations • Religious based • Evolutionary organisation • Recovery based organisation • Socially Responsible • Values based organisation  Chick Fil –A  YMCA (evangelism to general service -1877)  12 Step AA ideology and principles (1935)  Medicins Sans Frontiers  Johnson & Johnson 14 Mitroff & Denton, 1999:83
    15. 15. What triggers a move towards a more spiritual organisation? Employee workforce in crises: high turnover, stress-related illnesses and absenteeism Wellness Interventions: Body , Mind , Spirit 15
    16. 16. What triggers a move towards a more spiritual organisation? Leaders who aspire to integrate their spirituality , ethics and values into work Greed: profit, self interest, unethical behaviour 16
    17. 17. What triggers a move towards a more spiritual organisation? 17 • Create mission • Implement Strategy Spiritual owner • Revise mission • Add spiritual focus New leader • Current leader • Change/ implement Leader Epiphany
    18. 18. Why bring spirituality to work? Spiritual Construct Outcomes Spiritual development Increased individual effectiveness Cumulative effect on organizational performance and profitability - Dent et al. 2005:639 Spiritual well-being psychological well-being (degree of happiness and satisfaction with life) Temane & Wissing (2006:592). Meaning in life Career commitment, Motivation (instrinsic motivation and goal orientation) Work orientation (De Klerk, 2001: upetd.up.ac.za) Spiritual behaviour of leaders: positive eg. Respect for personal and inner life Psychological well-being of followers Higher commitment (Rego, Cunha & Oliveira, 2008:165) 18
    19. 19. Why bring spirituality to work? Spiritual Construct Outcomes Lack of spiritual behaviour from leaders: negative behaviour e.g. bossiness, laziness, disrespect Negative emotions, protest, disobedience, decrease in performance (R ego, Cunha & Oliveira, 2008:165) Meaning in life Healthy and balanced lifestyle Positive work attitude Contribution to community and welfare work (De Klerk, Boshoff & Van Wyk, 2009) Workplace spirituality – of work unit Workplace spirituality of leader Increase in work unit performance as measured by customer satisfaction Covariance of attitudes of leader to spirituality , group spirituality and performance (Duchon & Plowman, 2005:826) 19
    20. 20. Integrated performance and Spirituality People • compassion • Care • Employee well being • Social responsibility Planet • Sustainable caretakers • Responsible use of resources Profit • Avoid short term greed • How did you make your profit? 20
    21. 21. We all have a moral duty to ensure that whatever we do today doesn’t compromise the needs of those who come after us. None of us is the owner of this Earth. We are all caretakers, and transient at that.” King & Lessidrenska, 2009:4 21
    22. 22. Implications of spirituality at work – the individual level • Communicate honestly, act ethically • Recognize multiple employee commitments • Spirituality and religion part of cultural diversity – respect and understanding • Develop employees professionally and personally identify their own individual values; Develop Emotional Intelligence Develop Spiritual Intelligence 22
    23. 23. Implications of spirituality at work – the individual level cont. • Appreciation for individual and their contribution • Manage ethically and impartially • Promote workplace wellness – incl. physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness 23
    24. 24. Implications of spirituality at work – the group level • Promote understanding, tolerance and acceptance of diversity (Hicks, 2002:380) • Promote interpersonal experience: sense of connection to others and common purpose • Encourage and explore values of affiliation and altruistic love • Consider group rituals that enhance spirituality (Raelin, 2006:68) 24
    25. 25. Implications of spirituality at work – the group level cont. • Examples of group rituals: Meaning-making “What do we plan to care about?” (Raelin, 2006:68) Contemplation practices such as reflective dialogue, cycles of action and reflection, council circle (Duerr,2004:50) Team based community upliftment or environmental care activities (Kinjersky & Skrypnek, 2004:28) 25
    26. 26. Implications of spirituality at work – the organisation level • Spiritual leadership • Value statement and mission • From values to action • HR policies and procedures (congruence, authenticity, consistency) 26
    27. 27. 27