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Leadership and Spirituality in Business: The Contributions of Eastern Philosophies

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Dr. Stewart L. Tubbs, Eastern Michigan University, MI   (Bold: 10pt: Title Case: Times New Roman)

Dr. Pradeep Chowdhry, Eastern Michigan University, MI   (Bold: 10pt: Title Case: Times New Roman)

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ABSTRACT (Title: 10pt: Centered: Captial: Bold)

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There is a substantial body of research evidence regarding the importance of leadership and leadership development to organizational success, Avolio and Luthans (2006),Charan, Drotter and Noel (2001), Fullmer and Goldsmith (2001), Goffee and Jones (2006), Goldsmith (2007), McCall and Hollenbeck (2002), McCauley, Moxley and Van Velsor (1998), Reardon (2007), Viceri and Fulmer (1997), Wagner and Harter (2006), and White (2007). However, there remains an ongoing controversy about what types of leadership styles and competencies are the most effective in any given situation. In this paper leadership is defined as, “Influencing others to accomplish organizational goals,” (Tubbs, 2007). Based on the model presented in this paper, the rationale is advanced that the leadership competencies on the outer wedges of the model are where leadership development efforts should be focused (Tubbs and Schulz, 2006). This paper focuses on exploring the contributions of Eastern philosophies (specifically from India) on leadership effectiveness.

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Keywords: Leadership, Spirituality, Philosophies

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INTRODUCTION (Title: 10pt: Centered: Capital: Bold)

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Approximately $50 billion a year is spent on Leadership Development (Raelin (2004). Yet, one of the most frequently asked questions of leadership scholars is whether leadership can, in fact, be taught and learned. The answer seems to be a qualified yes. In other words, some aspects of leadership are more likely to be learnable and others are less so. For the purposes of this paper, leadership is defined as, “Influencing others to accomplish organizational goals,” Tubbs, (2007). Leadership is often discussed in terms of competencies, (Boyatsis (1982), Goleman, Boyatsis and McKee (2002), Whetton and Cameron, (2002). Competency is a term that describes the characteristics that lead to success on a job or at a task, Boyatsis (1982). Competencies can be described by the acronym KSA knowledge, skills and abilities. The model in Appendix A shows that leadership competencies can be represented by three concentric circles. These three circles describe three distinct aspects of leadership. The innermost circle includes an individual’s Core Personality. The second circle includes an individual’s values. The outermost circle represents an individual’s leadership behaviors and skills, (i.e., competencies). The authors contend that (1) the attributes in the innermost circle are more or less fixed at a young age and are unlikely to be changed as a result of leadership development efforts; (2) that a person’s values are somewhat more malleable than personality characteristics, yet more stable and perhaps more resistant to change than behaviors; and (3) that the behaviors represented in the outermost circle are the most likely to be changed through leadership development efforts. Each of these circles is discussed below.

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Personality  (Sub-Title: 10pt: Aligned Left: Title Case: Bold)

Personality represents the accumulation of enduring physical and mental attributes that provide an individual with his or her identity.  These attributes result from the interaction of heredity and environmental factors.  Determinates of personality can be grouped in four broad categories: hereditary, cultural, familial and social interactions.  Each of these perspectives suggest that an individual’s personality is a relatively enduring characteristic formed early in their life. Genetic specialists argue that components of an individual’s personality are in large part heredity (Holden, 1988).  Personality is also affected by an individual’s culture because it directs what an individual will learn and formats the context in which behavior is interpreted (Hofstede, 1984).  While the culture dictates and restricts what can be taught, a person’s family plays a key role in the constitution of an individual’s personality development.  The overall social context created by parents is vital to personality development (Levinson, 1978).  Besides family influences on personality, social interactions in the environment effect personality by dictating what is acceptable and customary in the social group.

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Values (Sub-Title: 10pt: Aligned Left: Title Case: Bold)

While personality is certainly a strong influence on behavior, an individual’s values also strongly shape peoples’ behaviors, Rokeach (1965). Witness the recent U.S. presidential election. Exit polls showed that, more than any other factor, “moral values” shaped their choice of candidate. Similarly, the scandals in American corporations have resulted in a loud outcry for an increased emphasis on business ethics in American business schools. The strong value system is that individuals and business that perform in ethical ways are much more likely to succeed in the long run. Spirituality is one specific dimension of values. Spirituality in business has received increasing attention over the last decade. This is due to organizational restructuring, baby boomers seeking more meaning in their lives and the current change models not being able to adequately deal with a rapidly evolving business environment. (Chopra, 1994).

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CONCLUSION (Title: 10pt: Centered: Capital: Bold)

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The importance of leadership and leadership development has been well documented. The present exploratory study will investigate one aspect of leadership, namely, the spirituality quotient, to determine its possible impact on leadership competencies and subsequent organizational effectiveness. This is a previously unexplored research agenda. 


END NOTES (End Notes should be numbered manually)

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1. Avolio, B and F. Luthans (2006). The high impact leader. New York:McGraw-Hill.

2. Charan, R., S. Drotter and J. Noel (2001). The leadership pipeline.

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REFERENCES (10pt: Centered: Bold: Capital)

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(Text: 8pt: Times font)  The references should be listed alphabetically.

Ashmos, D.P., & Duchon, D. (2000). Spirituality at work, Journal of Management Inquiry, 9, 134-146.

Avolio, B and F. Luthans (2006). The high impact leader. New York:McGraw-Hill.

Bergman, H., K. Hurson and D. Russ-Eft (1999). Everyone a Leader. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Boyatsis, R. (1982). The competent manager: A model for effective performance. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Bueno, C. and S. Tubbs (2004). Identifying global leadership competencies: An  exploratory study. The Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge,  September, 2004, 80-87.

Charan, R., S. Drotter and J. Noel (2001). The leadership pipeline.

Chin, C., Gu, J. and S. Tubbs (2001). Developing global leadership competencies. The Journal of Leadership Studies, 7 (3), 20-31.

Chopra, D. (1994). The seven spiritual laws of success. San Rafael, Ca: Amber-Allen Publishing.

Covey, S. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, St Martin’s Press, NJ., 1992

Deal, T., and A. Kennedy (1982). Corporate cultures. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.

Ellemers, N., D. Gilder, and S. Haslam (2004), “Motivating individuals and groups at work: A social identity perspective on leadership and group performance,” Academy  of Management Review, (29), 459-478.

Engardio, P. (2006). “Karma Capitalism,” Business Week (2006), , Oct 30, 84-91

Friedman, T. L., The World is Flat, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, NY, 2005

Fulmer, R. and M. Goldsmith (2001). The leadership investment. New York: AMACOM.

Gibbins, Paul.  Spirituality at Work: A Pre-theoretical Overview (M.Sc. dissertation, University of London, 2000) II 14-15.

Gibson, C. and J. Birkinshaw (2004), “The antecedents, consequences, and mediating role of organizational ambidexterity,” Academy of Management Journal, (47), 209-226.


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