Articles of Faith: 10 Key Attributes of a Spiritual Leader

Spiritual Leader's Heart

Leadership is a response to a vocation heard in the depths of one’s heart.

There is true dignity in leadership such as this.

10 Key Attributes of a Spiritual Leader

The concept of spiritual leader stresses the moral center of the leader, and vision, mission, goals, objectives, and strategies are always checked against the courageous inner mastery of moral commitment.

In my last posting I suggested  ten core values of the spiritual leader that help foster and maintain the leader’s balanced life between leadership effectiveness a genuine sense of servant leadership.

 1.  A sense of call and inner integrity. 

Great leaders are grounded in motivating values. This is the call to personal wholeness; it is a call to bring hope to situations of crisis through compassion that includes careful listening, empathy, openness to and respect for the spirit in others and in their gifts.

Fidelity to a sense of call leads to inner integrity and trustworthiness.

2.Faith in a shared vision.

A dedication to spiritual leadership can draw the best out of both leaders and followers in their commitment to a shared vision. In times of uncertainty we need to have faith in the shared vision, for there is no possibility that individuals, no matter how charismatic, can call the shots in a complicated system like today’s organizations.

The vision has to be something we achieve together, with mutual appreciation, solidarity, and patience.

3. Nourishing the shared vision and inspiring commitment to it. 

Only someone who has crossed the threshold to an enthusiastic dedication to a shared vision can nourish that vision in others. Certainly, a leader must know organizational policy and strategic thinking, but he or she must also know what precedes policy and planning, namely values, vision, and mission.

This central task of leadership—maintaining  the spirit and vision of the organization—has  far more to do with organizational effectiveness than almost any other aspect of organizational development.

4.Relentless pursuit of a common mission. 

This implies fostering self-leadership in followers. Being a visionary is not enough for the leader, he or she needs to have the practical skills to motivate others, and the inspiration to move followers to something beyond their immediate comprehension. The leader must balance a sense of urgency with patience, never allowing one without the other.

5.  Profound sense of community and human interdependence. 

Leadership emerges from the interplay between leaders and followers. This will imply open communications and the positive belief in others that leads to the creating of a climate of unity and mutual trust in which the welfare of others is as important as one’s own.

When a leader thinks in distinctions he or she is trapped by them.

Rather what is needed is a systems’ orientation in which the community is viewed as a whole, all parts are seen as necessary, and there is lots of room for diversity. This leader values both individuality and diversity.

6.  Humility towards one’s own views.

Leaders can never make their own views normative for others. Moreover they need to recall that even the service of others can be dedicated manipulation. Rather contemporary leaders need personal ethics that includes constant self-scrutiny, and that keeps the focus on the common task and not on self. The humble leader is the one who can share power with others—for he or she does not cling to it, and is open to continual quality improvement—for he or she never believes it is already attained.

7.  Making a difference to others’ lives. 

This begins with respect for the dignity of all and an awareness of the importance of empowerment. This will include influencing others to be visionaries, brokering information throughout the organization, using negotiating skills when necessary, and overcoming the hurt in others with healing skills.

Focusing on others, individually or through team building, is the primary orientation of a contemporary leader, who thereby releases the human energy, talent, and gifts of others.

8.  Having courage to say what needs to be said. 

This is the prophetical ministry of leadership. It grows out of inner peace and times of withdrawal for personal quiet time and reflection. It requires courage for some people will love you for exactly the same reason why other people will hate you.

9.  Challenging others to their best. 

Challenging others always requires the skills to criticize constructively, to work for compromise, and to set challenging but attainable goals. It needs sensitivity to timing, and genuine benevolence towards others.

10. Ability to maintain distance from task and people. 

Leaders need time alone when they can stop working and stop thinking and simply renew themselves with the love of their family, inspirational reading, reflection, and recuperative leisure.

A leader cannot be a person with a cluttered life and cluttered mind.

The inner freedom attained in times of withdrawal fosters the outward freedom needed in times of involvement.

So what are you doing to regenerate the spiritual leader within you? Are you constantly focusing on the “here-and-now-tactile leadership” with less regard to ward your spiritual leadership? How can you become a better leader by adopting these 10 key attributes?


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Dr. Leonard Doohan  is an author and workshop presenter
He focuses on issues of spiritual leadership
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7 responses to “Articles of Faith: 10 Key Attributes of a Spiritual Leader

  1. Mike,

    Very well written and inspirational message. I am thrilled at the emerging notion that the call to be a leader can be based not only the hard skills of management rather it is build on the foundations of faith, moral center and integrity. Well done!

    Bryan Moore


    • Bryan

      Thank you for your comments. Like you, I find the constant emphasis on management skills to be inadequate. I am grateful to you for your supportive e-mail



  2. Very nice post. There are many people who at first glance appear to be leaders yet in time their actions show otherwise. On the other hand, someone may not look the part yet through consistent loving action inspires the world. I like all of your points and find humility, self care, and the sharing of power to be the most telling.


    • Catherine

      Thank you for your supportive comments. I think your idea concerning those who seem to be leaders but are not is so relevant in today’s environment.

      Best wishes



  3. Pingback: Between East And West An Entrepreneurial Spirit Arises | Living History·

  4. Pingback: Articles of Faith: On Leadership, Theology, and Technology « Linked 2 Leadership·

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