Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Robert Spagnola Tom Yagos

Workplace Spirituality and Transformational Leadership: A Values-Based Model for Jesuit Business Leadership Instruction

The global pandemic is a wake-up call and invitation to Jesuit universities and their schools of business to build opportunities for positive change in the world through the way they educate their business students to be leaders. Our students are tired of the polarizing debates between lifeless secularism on the one hand, and dogmatic fundamentalism on the other. They long for a spirituality that sustains and empowers them throughout their careers. This paper argues for using spirituality to create transformational values-based change in how leadership is taught, and business organizations are led. It provides models for instructional practice in teaching leadership studies and for the application of spirituality to the workplace. The relevance and relationship of spirituality to leadership education and organization life have not received much attention as a topic of study in Jesuit business schools even though the topic is finding space in more and more textbooks and is included as a special interest group for the Academy of Management. The topic of spirituality is especially relevant in a business school setting as the global pandemic has changed the basic way work gets done now. The pandemic led to more people finding themselves isolated and alone as they worked in remote locations, and it is logical to conclude that as the pandemic subsides, the global workforce in returning to work will seek more meaning and depth to work-life than usually supplied with just a paycheck. We have an obligation to our business students to prepare them for leadership roles in a post-pandemic world with a new leadership model that includes spirituality. Spirituality has traditionally been associated with religion. Webster defines spirituality as “sensitivity or attachment to religious values.” This definition is not particularly helpful. We submit in this paper that workplace spirituality involves an entire framework of organizational values that extends beyond the religious beliefs of individual employees. It involves the creation of a culture that encompasses the concept of community and the recognition that workers have spirits that must be nourished if they are to thrive and find meaning in their work. This recognition demands a new style of leadership founded on values and respect for all. We offer two models in this paper recognizing the power of leading through spirituality. The first model proposes recommendations for incorporating spirituality into values-based leadership instruction in Jesuit business schools. The second model proposes a method for leading business organizations using spirituality as a door to transformational leadership that builds meaning for work in a post-pandemic world. We suggest using this second model as a roadmap for building spiritual values into a corporate culture that will allow the human spirit to flourish and the company to make a profit while building a more socially responsible world. Keywords: spirituality, college instruction, workplace values, instructional models, workplace models, transformational leadership