Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Spiritual Leadership and Business Management Leadership - Differences/Similarities

Many Christian authors will write that spiritual leaders need to be careful in relation to adopting management principles from the business world. Kind of like the business world is some sort of disgusting sticky substance you can't get off your fingers once it's there. You may flip it around and say at times, business management principles have been adopted and/or changed from existing leadership principles handed down from the days of the New Testament.

What do you think? Are there many differences between spiritual leadership and managerial leadership?

I think the answer is yes. Spiritual leadership has a very different outlook and overarching purpose than management. Though we are of course not throwing business management out the window! There are still many similarities between spiritual leadership the business management world. Let's compile a list and consider the topic further:

Differences Between Spiritual Leaders and Business Leaders

Spiritual leadership is about fulfilling the purposes of God. Managerial leadership is about fulfilling the vision of the business, which are generally greater profits, and increased shareholder dividends, amongst other things. For spiritual leaders and business managers purpose is absolutely important. What the leader and organisation's core business is, is crucial. The difference lies in what that core business is. I have not heard recently of a business whose core business is to reach the lost and bring them to Christ!

Spiritual leadership has particular core values that underpin leadership activity, for example, compassion, humility, servant-hood, love for others, etc. Leadership in the business sector can still characterize those values, but more often than not values exist in business simply in order to reach a profitable end (so, if the profit/outcome/success does not occur when adhering to those chosen values, then the values can change). I don't want to be too negative here, but spiritual leadership is adamant that particular values like love, respect, servant attitude, and being God-honouring are non-negotiables. Here is a clear difference between spiritual leadership and business management. Jim Collin's Built to Last for instance, says that for businesses to be long-lasting, they need to be built upon strong core values, but listen, it doesn't matter particularly what those values are, just as long as the business sticks to it! Spiritual leaders develop their values from the Bible, and thus their value system is not dependent upon a changing business world but by an unchanging morality code. That being said, the general population still admire and respect businesses that hold to respectable and strong values, that are not just nicely written on the wall in the office, but actually affect the everyday business.

You may remember the story of Johnson & Johnson (founded in 1886 by Robert W. Johnson), that continues to have a vision to 'alleviate pain and disease'. It also said that it valued its customers above everything else. Have a read of this excerpt from Wikipedia in relation to needing to respond to a crisis:
On September 29, 1982, a "Tylenol scare" began when the first of seven individuals died in metropolitan Chicago, after ingesting Extra Strength Tylenol that had been deliberately laced with cyanide. Within a week, the company pulled 31 million bottles of capsules back from retailers, making it one of the first major recalls in American history. The incident led to reforms in the packaging of over-the-counter substances and to federal anti-tampering laws. The case remains unsolved and no suspects have been charged. Johnson & Johnson's quick response, including a nationwide recall, was widely praised by public relations experts and the media and was the gold standard for corporate crisis management.
This was a great test of whether the value system that Johnson & Johnson had, would actually be lived out within their business. They chose to stick by strong values over the quest for profits.
Spiritual leadership values humility highly, and not position. Any positional authority or power one has, is merely a gift from God, to be used for God. In managerial leadership, you have the sense at times, that business positions are highly sought after, by potential up and rising gifted leaders. The underlying reasons for this passion of climbing the corporate ladder, may well be the financial benefits of such a position, or the popularity that arises from such a position. The difference here seems to be that spiritual leaders are keen to acknowledge that their position is given by God, while working hard in the process, while business leaders may attribute their position to hard work and merely the right set of lucky circumstances to have them arrive at that point.

Spiritual leadership and managerial leadership are not necessarily poles apart. You can be a spiritual leader in a management position; that is, you can live out an expression of your core values and belief system in the business environment, while improving the business you are in. This is certainly what Ed Silvoso advocates for in his book, Anointed for Business (2002).

There are many more differences and similarities between spiritual leaders and managers, but we have discussed three important aspects:
  1. Purpose
  2. Values
  3. Position. 
There is much more to say about spirituality in business; and I hope future posts may touch on such topics.


~ Matthew 5:6 - Hunger and thirst for righteousness...

Join the discussion at Disciples in Training on Facebook.


Also: The differences and similarities between leadership and management.
The truth about influence - what secular leadership won't tell you


Selected Books to consider on spiritual leadership and leadership in business:
  • Blackaby, Henry & Richard. (2001). Spiritual Leadership. Tennessee, USA: B&H Publishing Group.
  • Collins, Jim. (2001). Good to Great. New York, U.S.A.: HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2010). The Truth About Leadership. California, U.S.A.: Jossey Bass.
  • Sanders, Oswald. (2007). Spiritual Leadership. Chicago, USA: Moody Publishers.
  • Silvoso, Ed. (2002). Anointed for Business. California, U.S.A.: Regal Books.

1 comment:

  1. A business plan is a powerful scheme for your business. It can help us manage and navigate our company better and help our partners and investors understand our business strategy. Thanks for sharing.


Popular ALL TIME Posts