Gail Thornton RN, BSN
Nurse Leader, Dignity Health/ Common Spirit
HMA Director of Program Leadership
There are many reasons why we become leaders. However, there’s one thing all leaders have in common, we take the responsibility of leading other people. Whenever an organization wants a project to move forward, they depend upon their leaders to carry out the mission. Even during biblical times, God used leaders to direct and guide people. He used Moses, Joshua, Isaiah, Nehemiah, and the greatest leader of all Jesus Christ Himself. When we think of what makes a good leader, we must have the same humble attitude Jesus had of being a servant and a shepherd: not a boss! Jesus led from the heart. Everything He did was attached to serving people.
I have been exposed to many different leadership styles during my lifetime. I learned something from each of them. What worked for one didn’t always work for the other. Each leader’s character was different. Therefore, their leadership style was different. Some identified with being an Autocratic leader, some were Democratic leaders, some were Laissez-Faire leaders. During my later years, the Transformational leader & Transactional leader was introduced as leadership styles. Some younger leaders were identifying with these leadership styles. I’m not sure if one style is better than the other. There are qualities from each one that every leader can use to lead their teams.
I was looking for a leadership breakthrough when I was introduced to Spiritual leadership. A style of leadership that I could identify with that would enhance my leadership skills. My life as a leader had consisted of building people up and battling situations. I wanted people to know there was more to leadership, and to follow my example. I wanted them to know I cared about them and any current issues they were experiencing. I adopted the characteristics of Spiritual Leadership. I learned how to incorporate spiritual leadership skills into my practice to empower my employees.
“Spiritual Leadership allowed for various leadership approaches to be applied as needed and these approaches were designed to motivate and inspire followers to promote positive results.” Even though leadership is unpredictable, my goal is to serve the people I lead. I’m impressed with Spiritual Leadership because it involves motivating the inner man and inspiring others through faith/hope in the vision of the organization. This will lead to highly motivated, committed, and more productive employees. I know I’m there to serve my employees, and I strive to show them this every day. This form of leadership requires you to apply the six behaviors listed in an article from the Journal of Instructional Research: Spiritual Leadership.
- Respect for others’ values
- Fair treatment
- Expressing care & concern
- Listening actively & responsively
- Showing appreciation for others’ contributions
- Managing my own emotions
As I practice being a Spiritual leader in my workplace these six behaviors have touched the spirit of some of our employees. These spiritual practices have created an environment of collaboration, trustworthiness, cooperation, accountability, and respect. As a leader I know I’m not perfect, but I’m always in the process of learning and growing. To read more on Spiritual Leadership, please refer to the article: Spiritual Leadership: A Guide to A Leadership Style That Embraces Multiple Perspectives.