DEVELOPMENTAL PROCESSES OF SPIRITUALITY AND LEADERSHIP
PRACTICES AMONG A SELECTED GROUP OF HIGHER EDUCATION
Peter Kirby Pintus
B.A., Iowa State University, 1977
M.S., Texas A&M Commerce, 1982
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Educational Leadership and Innovation
1998 by Peter Kirby Pintus
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Peter Kirby Pintus
has been approved
Pintus, Peter Kirby (Ph.D., Educational Leadership and Innovation)
Developmental Processes of Spirituality and Leadership Practices Among a Selected Group of
Higher Education Leaders
Thesis directed by Dr. Sharon M. Ford
Spirituality has been shown to influence the development of leadership practices in
corporations. Very little is known, however, regarding the development of spirituality and
leadership practices of higher education leaders.
This study was based on a survey to measure spiritual orientation, and one-to-one
telephone interviews designed to.gather information related to spiritual and leadership
development. Participants were a select group of higher education leaders who have expressed
an interest in a servant-leadership philosophy and who hold a high orientation toward
The 85-item Spiritual Orientation Inventory incorporates nine components determined
to be part of spirituality. This inventory was used to measure the spiritual orientation of 30
higher education leaders. Those leaders (N=13) whose scores placed in the upper 50% of the
group of thirty were interviewed one-on-one to gather data regarding their perception of the
development of their spirituality and leadership practices. Findings showed that all of the
leaders indicated the importance of spirituality in their personal and professional lives. Ninety-
two percent declared that a transcendent dimension was a major part of their spirituality.
However, having a mission in life, recognizing that life has meaning and purpose, and serving
others were their primary spiritual foci. Various factors were identified as having influence on
the development of these leaders spirituality. Findings showed that the majority of those factors
also contributed to the development of their leadership practices indicating a strong link
between the development of spirituality and leadership practices. These leaders used various
adjectives to describe their leadership practices (i.e. trusting, caring, compassionate) which
reflected terms commonly associated with holding a servant-leadership philosophy. This study
shows that the integration of spirituality with a servant-leadership philosophy is evident in
leadership qualities of trust, respect, and service to others.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis. I recommend its
I dedicate this thesis to my wife for her unfaultering support, understanding, sacrifice,
and love during these years of learning. I could not have done this without her.
I also dedicate this thesis to Amanda and Megan for their patience and willingness to
let dad have his quiet times.
Above all, I dedicate this thesis to Adonai who guides, teaches, counsels, and sustains
those who seek Him.
My heartfelt thanks to my^ dissertation advisor for her support and for the many hours
that she gave to me through this process. Thanks to the faculty who provided an
opportunity for me to take a risk.
Purpose of this Study..........................................4
Value of the Study............................................ 5
Definition of Terms............................................6
Assumptions and Limitations...................................11
2. REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE........................................ 14
Origin of the Term Spirituality......................16
Spiritual Formation and Development....................26
Spirituality Defined.................................. 29
Assessing Spiritual Orientation........................33
Spiritualitys Influence On Other Fields...............38
Leadership and Spirituality............................44
Sample Population Selection..................................64
Phase One............................................. 66
Data Analysis and Interpretation.............................69
Framework One Humanistic Spirituality................69
Framework Two Servant-Leadership.....................70
4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION.........................................74
The Study.................................................. 74
Research Question #1........................... 77
Research Question #2......................... .108
Research Question #3...........................115
Research Question #4...........................126
Research Question #5.......................... 131
5. CONCLUSIONS, IMPLICATIONS, AND
Purpose of Study.....................................143
Overview of Chapter Five.............................145
Design of this Study.................................145
Results of Research Questions........................147
Implications of the Study............................153
Recommendations for Future Studies...................156
A. SPIRITUAL ORIENTATION INVENTORY (SOI).....157
B. SOI SCORING INSTRUCTIONS.....................164
C. DESCRIPTION OF SOI COMPONENTS..................166
D. FIRST LETTER TO H.E. LEADERS...........169
E. SECOND LETTER TO H.E. LEADERS.........172
F. INTERVIEW MEETING AND QUESTIONS.......174
4.1 General Demographics for the Population Group of Thirty Leaders....79
4.2 SOI Results for the Population of Thirty Leaders.................82
4.3 Characteristics of Group One and Group Two.......................84
4.4 Individual and Group SOI Scores for Group One and Group Two....86
4.5 SOI Component Score Comparisons Between Group One and
4.6 Analysis of SOI Component: Meaning and Purpose in Life (MP)......91
4.7 Analysis of SOI Component: Idealism (I)..........................93
4.8 Demographics of Sample Group of Thirteen Higher Education
4.9 Component and Total SOI Scores for the Sample Group of
4.10 Common Concepts of Spirituality Among the Sample Group of
4.11 Influential Factors on the Spiritual Development of the Sample
Group of Thirteen Leaders................................109
4.12 Leadership Descriptors for the Sample Group of Thirteen Higher
4.13 Influential Factors on the Development of Leadership Practices
for the Sample Group of Thirteen Leaders.................128
4.14 SOI Component Group Rankings for the Sample Group of
Thirteen Higher Education Leaders..................133
4.15 Top Three SOI Components Ranked By the Sample Group of
Thirteen Higher Education Leaders..................135
4.16 Number of Times Spiritual Components Were Listed as Being in
the Top Three By the Sample Group of Thirteen Higher
To deal with all of life, we need a spirituality that can support us not
only when we are planting our flag at the top of the mountain but also
when we have fallen off the mountain or cannot even find the courage to
begin the climb (Elkins, 1995, p. 85).
Dr. David Elkins, professor of psychology in the Graduate
School of Education and Psychology of Pepperdine University,
The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between
them there are shadows and blends that are part of the infinite variety of
human nature. The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the
servant-first to make sure that other peoples highest priority needs are
being served. (Greenleaf, 1977, p. 13).
-Robert K. Greenleaf, author, Servant Leadership.
Spirituality has captured the mind of humankind for many thousands of years. It
is a part of the human experience. During these years, the discussion of spirituality has
been primarily kept within the domain of religious institutions. However, a growing
disenchantment with modernity has created a great hunger for spiritual values and for
the mystical which can be expressed both individually and communally. An increasing
number of respected authors have contributed to a further understanding of the
importance of spirituality. Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love.
Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth (Peck, 1978) and The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change (Covey, 1989), both which
have been on best-seller lists for over 500 weeks, seem to testify to the great popular
interest of spirituality. In Megatrends 2000. author John Naisbitt (1988) named
increased interest in spirituality as one of the ten megatrends in contemporary American
culture. Prominent writers such as Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul (1995),
Michael Lemer author of Jewish Renewal: A Path To Healing and Transformation
(1994), and others (Covey, 1989; Collins, 1995) have assisted in taking the discussion
of spirituality out of the religious institutions and into home study groups and
Spirituality is also being discussed as it relates to leadership practices within
corporations around the world. Writers such as Bolman and Deal (1995), Conger and
Associates (1994), Chappell (1993), and Renesh (1992) have encouraged the
integration of spiritual dialog with leadership dialog in the corporate boardroom.
Elkins (1995) and Jacobsen (1994) describe spirituality as a way of being and
experiencing that comes about through an awareness of a transcendent dimension. It is
characterized by certain identifiable values in regard to self, others, nature, life, and
whatever one considers to be the Ultimate. It is the way one seeks to live a lifestyle
which nourishes and honors those relationships.
A leadership philosophy such as servant-leadership (Spears, 1994)
demonstrates the relationship and influence of spiritual values upon leadership
practices. A servant-leader is defined as those leaders who have a leadership
philosophy which emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to work,
a sense of community, and shared decision-making power. Servant-leaders are
characterized by demonstrating behavioral characteristics such as listening, empathy,
healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualiztion, foresight, stewardship, commitment
to the growth of people, and building community (Spears, 1995, pp. 3-5).
The discussion of spirituality and leadership, however, has been primarily kept
within the realm of corporate institutions. A very small amount of literature speaks to
these two topics within the context of higher education institutions. Perhaps this can
be attributed to the general opinion that spirituality in our society too often reflects
retreat from the world of intellectual discourse, and spiritual pursuits are often cloaked
in a reflective anti-intellectualism which mirrors the view in academe of spiritualty as an
irrational cultural residue (Sollod, 1992, p.60). Jacobsen (1994) believes that this kind
of thinking creates a kind of cultural schizphrenia in which the general population may
have an ongoing interest in spirituality (and leadership) but a large segment of the
academic community refuses to take it seriously (p. 3). This certainly can effect how
the academic community addresses the needs of its customer, the student. It is the
opinion of this researcher that it is both the time and a necessity to investigate the
development of spirituality and leadership practices within the higher education
This study seeks to contribute to the literature by exploring the developmental
processes of spirituality and leadership behaviors among selected higher education
leaders. This researcher will use two frameworks through which the studys data will
be viewed. The first framework will be the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI)
developed by David Elkins, Ph.D. (1988), professor of psychology in the Graduate
School of Education and Psychology of Pepperdine University, Los Angeles. The SOI
was chosen because of its ability to assess the orientation of individuals toward
spirituality. The second framework will be the servant-leadership philosophy as
developed by Robert K. Greenleaf (1977). Spears (1995, pp. 3-5) states that a servant-
leader displays, perhaps in different ways, ten leadership characteristics through their
leadership practices. The servant-leadership philosophy has a spiritual basis. Therefore,
a servant-leader who displays these characteristics implies an orientation toward
Purpose of This Study
The purpose of this study is to explore the developmental processes of
spirituality and leadership practices among selected higher education leaders who have
expressed an interest in servant-leadership and who hold a high orientation toward
Value of the Study
The following are the expected values of this study:
1. The information from this study will contribute to building a body of
knowledge on the subject of the developmental processes of spirituality and
leadership practices, specifically those practices demonstrated by leaders
who have indicated an interest in a servant-leadership philosophy and who
have a high orientation toward spirituality.
2. With the insurgence of interest in the application of spirituality to
leadership, this study will provide valuable information regarding how a
select group of higher education leaders view this topic.
3. The information will provide a better understanding of how a select group
of higher education leaders integrate spirituality with their leadership
4. The information will stimulate discussion on the integration of spirituality
and leadership practices as a higher education instructional topic.
To explore the developmental processes of spirituality and leadership practices
among selected higher education leaders who have expressed an interest in servant-
leadership and who hold a high orientation toward spirituality, the following research
questions must be addressed.
1. What is the spiritual profile of a select group of higher education leaders?
2. How does this group of leaders perceive the development of their
3. How does a select group of higher education leaders holding a high
orientation toward spirituality perceive their current leadership practices?
4. How does a select group of higher education leaders holding a high
orientation toward spirituality perceive the development of their leadership
5. What do selected higher education leaders believe to be the specific spiritual
components that influence the development of their leadership practices?
Definition of Terms
In this study, the key terms are defined as follows.
Spirituality is defined as a way of being and experiencing that comes about.
through an awareness of a transcendent dimension. It is characterized by
certain identifiable values in regard to self, others, nature, life, and whatever one
considers to be the Ultimate. It is the way one seeks to live a lifestyle which
nourishes and honors those relationships (Elkins, 1995; Jacobsen, 1994). This
term will be used in this study instead of the term religion which is generally
perceived to be associated with man-made institutions: churches, synagogues,
Leadership is defined as a process of interactions with followers resulting in
mutual influence through social exchange. This is demonstrated through setting
directions; setting goals; providing vision; mobilizing others; stimulating and
motivating others to act (Bimbaum, 1989, p. 129).
Servant-leadership is defined as those leaders who have a leadership
philosophy which emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to
work, a sense of community, and shared decision-making power. These leaders
are characterized by demonstrating the following ten behavioral characteristics:
listening, empathy, healing, awareness, persuasion, conceptualization, foresight,
stewardship, commitment to the growth of people, and building community
(Spears, 1995. pp. 3-5).
Selected higher education leaders refers to those individuals who have
expressed an interest in a servant leadership philosophy by attending workshops
and/or conferences sponsored by the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-
Leadership and the Kellogg Foundation.
High orientation toward spirituality is defined when the sum of the totals
for each of the spiritual components falls in the upper 20th percentile of scores
of those responding to the Spiritual Orientation Inventory in this study.
Nine Components of Spirituality as defined by Elkins, (1988):
1. Transcendent dimension. The spiritual person has an
experientially based belief that there is a transcendent dimension to
life. The actual content of this belief may range from the traditional
view of a personal God to a psychological view that the
transcendent dimension is simply a natural extension of the
conscious self into the regions of the unconscious or Greater Self.
But whatever the content, typology, metaphors, or models used to
describe the transcendent dimension, the spiritual person believes in
the morethat what is seen is not all there is. He or she
believes in an unseen world and that harmonious contact with, and
adjustment to, this unseen dimension is beneficial. The spiritual
person is one who has experienced the transcendent dimension,
often through what Maslow referred to as peak experiences, and
he or she draws personal power through contact with this
2. Meaning and purpose in life. The spiritual person has known the
quest for meaning and purpose and has emerged from this quest
with confidence that life is deeply meaningful and that ones own
existence has purpose. The actual ground and content of this
meaning vary from person to person, but the common factor is that
each person has filled the existential vacuum with an authentic
sense that life has meaning and purpose.
3. Mission in life. The spiritual person has a sense of vocation. He
or she feels a sense of responsibility to life, a calling to answer, a
mission to accomplish, or in some cases, even a destiny to fulfill.
The spiritual person is metamotivated and understands that it is in
losing ones life that one finds it.
4. Sacredness of life. The spiritual person believes life is infused with
sacredness and often experiences a sense of awe, reverence, and
wonder even in nonreligious settings. He or she does not
dichotomize life into sacred and secular, holy and profane, but
believes all of life is holy and that the sacred is in the ordinary.
The spiritual person is able to sacralize or religionize all of life.
5. Material values. The spiritual person can appreciate material
goods such as money and possessions but does not seek ultimate
satisfaction from them nor attempt to use them as a substitute for
frustrated spiritual needs. The spiritual person knows that
ontological thirst can only be quenched by the spiritual and that
ultimate satisfaction is found not in material, but spiritual things.
6. Altruism. The spiritual person believes that we are our brothers
keeper and is touched by the pain and suffering of others. He or
she has a strong sense of social justice and is committed to altruistic
love and action. The spiritual person knows that no man is an
island and that we are all part of the continent of common
7. Idealism. The spiritual person is a visionary committed to the
betterment of the world. He or she loves things for what they are
yet also for what they can become. The spiritual person is
committed to high ideals and to the actualization of positive
potential in all aspects of life.
8. Awareness of the tragic. The spiritual person is solemnly
conscious of the tragic realities of human existence. He or she is
deeply aware of human pain, suffering, and death. The awareness
gives depth to the spiritual person and provides him or her with an
existential seriousness toward life. Somewhat paradoxically,
however, awareness of the tragic enhances the spiritual persons joy,
appreciation, and valuing of life.
9. Fruits of spirituality. The spiritual person is one whose spirituality
has borne fruit in his or her life. True spirituality has a discernible
effect upon ones relationship to self, others, nature, life, and
whatever one considers to be the Ultimate.
Assumptions and Limitations
Assumptions in this study are:
1. Higher education leaders can be found throughout the institution and are
not limited to holding supervisory job positions (i.e., president, director,
2. Higher education leaders have the potential to experience a high orientation
toward spirituality and are willing to discuss their experiences.
3. Higher education leaders recognize their ability to influence others through
their own values, attitudes, and practices.
4. Spirituality incorporates a value or belief system, which can be translated
into personal attitudes or philosophies that are demonstrated through
Limitations in the study are:
1. Leadership practices and spiritual orientation of higher education leaders
may differ among higher education leaders with varying leadership
philosophies. This study makes reference to the servant-leadership
philosophy as a methodological tool to select participants who are likely to
hold high orientations toward spirituality and as a framework by which to
analyze the data.
2. This researcher assumes that the higher the spiritual orientation of leaders,
the more strongly the spiritual components will be demonstrated in
leadership practices and the more powerful the overall data will be. Thus,
only thirteen higher education leaders were interviewed in the study. These
thirteen leaders hold a high orientation toward spirituality and have
demonstrated interest in the servant-leadership philosophy.
3. The population selected for this study represents a group of leaders who
have benefitted from the services and resources provided by the Robert K.
Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.
In summary, chapter one provided an introduction to the proposed study. This
included a discussion of the research framework, purpose and value of the topic,
research questions, definition of terms, and assumptions and limitations. Chapter two
provides a review of the research literature relating to general spirituality, spirituality
and leadership, and servant-leadership. Chapter three provides the research
methodology, instrumentation, sample population selection, and the research process.
Chapter four provides an analysis of data. Chapter five provides conclusions,
implications for higher education leaders, and suggestions for further research.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
The focus of this study is on the developmental processes of spirituality and
leadership practices among higher education leaders.
As one reviews and studies available research on spirituality and leadership,
several questions arise. What is spirituality? Is there a definition which applies to a
variety of faiths and philosophical orientations such as Christian, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist,
Humanist, and others? Can a persons spiritual orientation be measured? Does
spirituality influence leadership practices? And, is there a leadership practice that is
more apt to draw leadership principles from a spiritual perspective?
This literature review sought answers to these questions by looking at two
major areas of research. Part one looks at the literature related to spirituality in four
1. The historical development of the term spirituality including several
2. The formation of spirituality
3. The definitions of spirituality
4. The influence of spirituality on several professional fields
This information provided a basis upon which spirituality, as a legitimate
research topic, stands.
Part two of this review looks at the literature related to spirituality and
leadership practices in three ways.
1. The influence of spirituality on leadership practices
2. The creation, development, and characteristics of a specific leadership
philosophy called servant-leadership
3. The integration of spirituality with servant-leadership
Although the term spirituality is sometimes viewed as being abstract, it is
used to describe a real aspect of human nature. This term communicates beyond the
commonly used term religion. Religion connotes an established system or set of
behaviors generated by the teachings of a particular religious institution. Spirituality,
on the other hand, communicates an inner pursuit of something greater than self. Its
experience can be tied to a variety of philosophical and/or religious thought associated
with Christianity, Muslim, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judiais, etc. Its experiences are
transreligious in usage. However, while the expression of spirituality is not necessarily
tied to any one particular philosophy or religion, the origin of the word is religiously-
Origin of the Term Spirituality
The English word spirituality is rooted in the French language used by the
Catholic Church in the early 11th century. Its root stresses the subjective aspect of
the relation (between God and persons), emphasizing the psychological disposition of
the individual (Farina, 1989, p. 16). Its earliest development and usage originated in
the context of the Christian religion. From this perspective spirituality requires a
recognition of the word spirit an important Biblical term. In both Hebrew and
Greek, the same word (ruach and pneuma, respectively) is used to mean breath,, wind,
and spirit. According to Holt (1993), from a Biblical perspective, if God created the
world good, and later became flesh, as the Gospel of John claims, then spirit is a
dimension of reality compatible with physical existence. Humans are a unity of body,
mind, and spirit. The result spirituality has a wholistic purpose. It encompasses the
whole of human life and depending upon the culture, denominations, personalities, and
gifts, will develop in a variety of ways (p. 5).
During much of the 11th through the 16th centuries, Roman Catholic
theologians discussed the practice of Christianity in their conversations on church
doctrines. But in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Roman Catholic church
began to use the term spirituality in a way that is commonly understood and applied
today. The term is connected with two subdisciplines: ascetical theology and mystical
theology. The first is used to describe teachings of Christian disciplines and the second,
describes the teaching of the mystics. In the twentieth century, these two subdivisions
combined into one: spiritual theology or spirituality.
Spirituality has been discussed in various ways within religious and non-
religious traditions. Early on, the term spirituality was generally applied more often
within the framework of western religious traditions such as Catholism, Protestism, etc.
It was not discussed without God as its foundation. However, the meaning of the term
spirituality has broadened to include the identification of a transcendent dimension as
God, the Ultimate, the great rule, or anything else which signifies a force, being, or
concept that is viewed as greater than self. Broadening the meaning of the term
spirituality, has provided opportunities for its usage within a much greater scope of
traditions, both religious and non-religious to use it to mean a general recognition of a
transcendent dimension and certain moral, ethical, and spiritual values.
The following are some of the major traditions that use the term spirituality.
Western, A variety of schools of spirituality developed during the 20th
century. These schools were generally connected with the prevailing religious orders
such as Jesuit (or Ignatian) spirituality, Franciscan spirituality, Carmelite spirituality,
and so on. It was just a matter of time, though, before spirituality was discussed
outside of the religious orders. However, the term spirituality continued to be used
primarily within the confines of the Roman Catholic faith until the early to mid 1940s
when the Protestant church began to apply the term spirituality or spiritual
development in various and distinctive ways. A recent Protestant description of
spirituality can be read from the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality
Prayer in Christian theology and experience is more than pleading or petition; it
is our whole relation to God. And spirituality concerns the way in which prayer
influences conduct, our behavior and manner of life, our attitudes to other
people. It is often best studied in biographies, but clearly it shapes dogmas,
inspires movements and build institutions (p. v).
The term is now commonly connected with Anglican spirituality, Lutheran
spirituality, Reformed spirituality, Pietist spirituality, Quaker spirituality, African-
American spirituality, and others. Spirituality was an increasingly popular subject
among Protestants in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. As concluded in the
Dictionary of Christianity in America (1990), a growing awareness of the variety of
spiritual traditions within Christendom encouraged some to choose spiritual paths other
than the familiar and well-worn avenues of their inherited spiritual traditions. For
many, the varieties of spiritualities seemed to offer a smorgasbord of options and
avenues, and one more arena in which they could unself-consciously work out the
religious impulse of expressive individualism (p. 1127).
Within the context of Christian traditions, spirituality is described in a number
of ways. Wakefield (1983) says that spirituality are those attitudes, beliefs, practices
which animate or inform peoples lives and help them to reach .out towards super-
sensible realities ( p. 361). Fox (1981), a Roman Catholic theologian and Dominican,
believed that spirituality is about roots. For all spirituality is about living a
nonsuperficial and therefore a deep, rooted, or radical life (p. 1). Griffin (1988),
influenced by Paul Tillich, said that spirituality referred to the ultimate values and
meanings of terms of which we live (p. 1). Collins (1995) noted that there are two
aspects of spirituality. First, spirituality involved transcendence in a way that
morality does not. Its aim was someone or something higher than self. Second,
spirituality was radical in that it focused on the root of the problem with human beings.
Collins said, It not only calls the self into question in a way that conventional morality
does not, but it also cuts through the less-than-ultimate understandings of evil which
are rife both in the church and in the broader culture by taking into account the deepest
recesses of the human heart (p. 42).
Judaism. According to Jones, Wainwright, and Yamold (1986), The study of
Jewish spirituality of the mystical kind is made difficult by the unwillingness on the part
of the Jewish mystics to share with others their more intimate, personal experiences
(p. 493). However, some of the spiritual or mystical traditions can be traced to the
From the period of the Talmudic Rabbis (the first and second centuries) for
about a thousand years, the mystical traditions were centered on studying the vision of
the Merkavah, which is the heavenly chariot described in the first chapter of the book
of Ezekiel. Those who studied during this period were known as the Riders of the
Chariot, in other words, those who engaged in soul ascents to the heavenly halls
where they saw God and his holy angels (p. 493). The majority of those who studied
were scholars who were experts in the meaning of the Law. The intent of Jewish
mysticism, in general, was to give new life into the practical observances of the Torah.
In 1698 1760, the Hassidic movement was founded in Eastern Europe by
Israel Baal Shem Tov. It quickly spread as a mass movement throughout the Jewish
communities. The basis of the Hasidic philosophy is the doctrine of devekut
(attachment) which implies a relationship of the perpetual being with God (p.496).
Until then, this relationship could only be experienced by a select few.
The Hasidic mystical tradition was opened up further through the writings of
A. I. Kook in 1865 1935. As Chief Rabbi of Palestine, Kook believed that modern
science and technology had to be recognized as the way, provided by God, to bring
greater perfection to the world. Kook believed that the Jewish people had become
too spiritualized in its long divorce from the land and from practical life as a people
(p. 497). This resulted in the inability of the Jewish people to fulfill its true aim, that of
spiritualizing the material. Spirituality must be connected to material existence if it is to
be effective. A Hasidic tale clearly demonstrates this philosophy. There was a master
who would place his watch on the stand at which he prayed as a reminder to him not to
allow himself to become lost in eternity but to return to the world of time (p. 497).
Today, Lemer (1994) represents a perspective which argues that a distinctive
feature of Judaism has been its unique ability to blend spirituality with a liberator}'
political vision. This fits in with the Hasidic believe that spirituality must be integrated
with the world. Lemers concept implies an,
... attempt to make us more fully alive to Gods presence in the world, to build
a life that is God-centered, and to provide us with a way of reclaiming the
unique spirituality of Judaism, deeply embedded in politcal consciousness but
not reducible to a particular political agenda or to a set of moral injunctions.
Native American. While the term spirituality is rooted in Christianity, its use
is not limited nor confined to Western religious tradition. Spirituality can be used
within the context of a variety of philosophical and religious traditions. For example, in
Native American traditions, spirituality focused on the oneness of all of nature and self.
Spiritual ceremonies seek to connect Native Americans with Mother Earth and the
Creator or Great Spirit. In many cases, these occasions were the predecessor to our
modern day activities which focused on ecological and environmental issues. Ed
McGaa, Eagle Man, (1990), who has introduced thousands to Native American
spirituality and rituals said:
Native American Indians learned how to live with the earth on a deeply spiritual
plane. Their intuitive sense of intimate connection with all of existence from
Brother Bear to Sister Stone to Father Sky to Mother Earth provides the deep
ecological wisdom that the present-day environmental prophets have
rediscovered and begun to teach to an alienated world. At some point, these
environmentalists will ask why their passion is so strong, their commitment so
intense, their pain from earths suffering so terrible, their ecstasy with earths
healing so exquisite. They will look inside. When they are ready and their
quest is sincere, they will experience what the Indians know as the Great Spirit,
Manny Twofeathers (1996), a Native American spiritual leader and counselor
described a ceremony called the Sundance which promotes a spiritual awakening. It
is a way of sacrificing for the privilege of having a direct connection with the
Creator (p. 1). It is one of the ceremonies given by the White Buffalo Calf Women to
the Plains Tribes. The Sundance is a way to humble ourselves, pray for the healing of
others, and ask for a better way of life for everyone (p. 1).
During the Sundance, Native Americans experience a spiritual awakening and
make a commitment of self-sacrifice for others. Over four days, under a hot sun,
abstaining from all food and water, men and women go through rigorous supplication
rites to pull down the blessings and direction of the Grandfatherthrough dancing,
praying, and physical suffering, each seeks to become One with the Creator, the Earth,
the Tribe, and the Family.
Eastern. According to Chatterjee (Brown, Farr, & Hoffmann, 1997), there is
no word for spirituality in Indian languages. The reason is that the term spirituality
implies a focus on self whereas a major oracle of Hindu and Buddhist thought is not a
focus on individualism but rather the oneness of all. In fact, using a phrase such as
Hindu spirituality or Buddhist spirituality is like using such phrases as Judaic Sadhana,
Christian dharma, or Islamic satori. In other words, the English term spirituality
should not be associated with Eastern religious languages anymore than the term
dharma should be connected with Christianity. The development of the concept of
Hindu or Buddhist spirituality was the result of an effort to better understand the
mystical thought of Hinduism or Buddhism. This does not mean, however, that a
spiritual life is not recognized. Buddha wrote: Just as a candle cannot bum without
a fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. The spirit dwells in all men, but not all
men are aware of this. Happy is the life of him who knows this... (Osman and Russell,
1979, p. 359).
Humanistic. Spirituality, can be and is often discussed outside the confines of a
particular religious framework. In the 1960s, humanist Abraham Maslow, began to
question the reality of spirituality being held within the domain of the church -
organized religion. Although he was concerned with genuine spiritual values, he was
not impressed by most traditional, organized religion. He states his position in his book
Religions. Values, and Peak Experiences (1970):
I want to demonstrate that spiritual values have naturalistic meaning, that they
are not the exclusive possession of organized churches, that they do not need
supernatural concepts to validate them, that they are well within the jurisdiction
of a suitably enlarged science, and that, therefore they are the general
responsibility off all mankind, (p. 33)
Maslow was not anti-religion, nor did he hold the stance that nontheism was the
only philosophical position. In fact, he held the belief that the essential core religious
experience may be embedded in either a theistic, supernatural context or a non-theistic
context (Maslow, 1970, p. 28). Maslow saw spirituality as encompassing all of
humanity. In his model of mans hierarchy of needs, Maslow placed the concept of
spirituality (transcendence dimension) at the top of all other needs.
Maslow was not the only one who questioned the development and role of
spirituality. His concerns were predicated by an earlier challenge by John Dewey
(1934). Like Maslow, Dewey sought an understanding of spirituality apart from
religion. According to Rockefeller (1991), Deweys early philosophy was an American
brand of ethical idealism heavily influenced by liberal Protestant Christian values,
social democracy, and science including the findings of evolutionary biology an the new
psychology (p. 21). Eventually, Deweys thoughts shifted to the development of
strategies to unify these different thoughts.
Between the years 1894 1928, Dewey broke from the institutional church. He
developed a new naturalistic process philosophy and democratic humanism. This
became his philosophical foundation.
As with Maslow, Dewey strongly held the view that spirituality was a basic
human phenomenon, that superseded, and was different from traditional religious
expressions. In other words, the expression and formation of spirituality could occur
outside the domain of churches and temples and that the formation of spiritual values
were not the dependent upon traditional religious teachings. This did not mean,
however, that traditional religion could not be the channel of expression or nurturer of
spirituality. But Maslow and Dewey believed that the values associated with
spirituality belonged to humanity and were not the exclusive possession of organized
religion or of traditionally religious persons.
Today, spirituality is no longer viewed as an element of human nature that can
only be experienced within the context of religion. The focus of spirituality is not upon
adhering to a set of procedures or programs, although these types of activities may in
fact enhance spiritual experiences. Spirituality is an integral part of human nature
which affects relationships between self and the Ultimate (however, one might define
this term), self and others, and self and the world. It is a very real phenomenon though
Spiritual Formation and Development
Since the 1960s, universities and colleges with a theological emphasis have
noticed an increase in interest in the study of the formation and development of
spirituality. Spiritual formation involved the recognition of a distinctive part of human
existence; the recognition of a transcendent dimension. As McAuliffe (1996) stated,
What is distinctive, however, about the epiphany of the mystery of formation in
human beings is the unique transcendent dimension of human life. The
transcendent mystery of formation is manifest in the transcendent-ability of
human being: their ability to go beyond their immersion in the cosmic and
organismic manifestations of the formative mystery, (p. 2)
Universities and colleges from a variety of religious traditions have noticed an
increase interest on the part of students to better understand how spirituality is formed.
Boston Theological Institute, Andover Newton Theological School, Boston University
School of Theology, Episcopal Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, as well as
others have taken an active role in the development of undergraduate and graduate
programs which helped to meet this growing need. Fr. Alkiviadis C. Calivas, President
of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, believed that
education, itself, is a spiritual process. In his installation address on January 22, 1996
The foundational principlesthe formation and transformation of the human
beingmust continue to lie at the heart of the educational enterprise at Hellenic
College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Here, we are -
inspired to views education as an integration of learning and faith. For us the
pursuit of knowledge is but one aspect of the educational process. We must
seek as well to challenge our faculty, students, and staff to reach for the highest
One might conclude after reading most of the literature that the study of
spiritual formation, and any related program development, occurred only within the
confines of religion departments at theological institutions. However, this is not the
case. In 1963 Duquesne University, located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, developed and
offered a new three year Master of Arts degree. This degree was developed not
through the religion department, but through the psychology department, and offered
through the Institute of Man. Its focus was to study the relation between religion and
The response to the program was so overwhelming, that the Middle States
Association of Colleges and Schools suggested in 1978 that the Masters degree was
worthy of being upgraded to the degree Doctor of Philosophy. The next year the
Institute of Man was changed to the Institute of Formative Spirituality. In addition to
the Ph.D., two Master of Arts degrees were offered together with a sabbatical
program. This program was directed by one of the main theorists of formative
spirituality, Adrian van Kaam, who viewed formative spirituality from a combined
perspective of religion and psychology framework. Van Kaam contributed greatly to
formative spirituality through authoring at least thirty books and hundreds of articles
related to the subject. Though van Kaam was a major contributor to this area of study,
he recognized that he was building upon the work of others. McAuliffe (1996) quoted
van Kamm to say,
The groundwork of this (Formative Spirituality) approach is laid in its steadily
expanding body of knowledge as developed so far by faculty and students. Its
principles, assumptions, and methods are explained in approximately 30 books
and 150 articles published by faculty members. Furthermore it is developed to
date in 15 volumes of Humanitas, in 160 issues of Envoy, and in more than 125
these by Institute graduates. It is also contained in the tape library of courses,
lectures, and films given within and outside the university and in theses and
dissertations at other universities in the United States, Canada, and Rome.
Spirituality and formative spirituality were legitimate fields of academic
interest and study outside of the theological seminaries according to Rodney Peterson,
Executive Director of Boston Theological Institute. He said that, the term
spirituality and spiritual formation once reserved for the hushed halls of seminary life
in a bygone era, are being picked up in popular cultureand not just by a New Age
spirituality of whatever coinage (BTI, 1995).
It is no longer acceptable to claim that spirituality is not a discipline, a focus for
intense study because it is, perhaps, the foundation in which other academic disciplines
are rooted. Again, Peterson wrote,
To use the term spirituality in our present context is to recognize a mystery.
It is also to refuse to continue to foster the notion that spirituality is completely
defined by a cloud of unknowing, the retreat of all who are unable to make it in
the hard analytical world of knowledge as defined by reason and measurement.
Spirituality is not a vague discipline, rather it is the parent of all disciplines
A renewed interest in spirituality has caused a review of how it fits into the
world of academia not only at an instructional level but also at a practical interpersonal
level, a level represented by the vast number of leaders throughout higher education.
The literature seemed to agree on one thing related to spirituality. There was no
single definition that spoke for all traditions (Kinerk, 1981; Wakefield, 1983; Farina,
1989). If this be the case, then how can a working definition for this study be
identified? To answer this question, various definitions were reviewed to identity
common elements or components.
According to Neck and Milliman (1994), spirituality encompasses a number of
different dimensions (p. 9). One major view defined spirituality as that human striving
for the transforming power present in life; it is that attraction and movement of the
human person toward the divine (Dale, 1991, p. 5). A common theme found in the
literature is that spirituality is a means by which we express our desires to find meaning
and purpose in our lives, as well as a process in which we live out deeply held personal
values (Block, 1993; Ray, 1992). According to Ray, these values often reflected a
desire to make a difference and create a meaningful world.
Although not everyone is aware of their spirituality, all individuals are seen as
having the potential to be spiritual, which includes an inner wisdom, authority (Ray,
1992), and compassion (Maynard, 1992). Based upon deeply held beliefs, common
spiritual values and attitudes include an intention to live with integrity, the intent to
develop a sacredness in ones life relationships (Ray, 1992), a desire to focus on health,
happiness, empowerment (Hawley, 1993), and inner peace, truth, right conduct, well-
being, and love (Miller, 1992).
It is critical that the reader understand that the term spirituality is being used
to include a wide range of experience while the terms religion and faith are seen as
limiting the discussion to experiences that arise in traditional institutions or to ways of
thinking (Vaill, 1990; Naisbitt, 1990; Sheldrake, 1992). Even though spirituality is
sometimes labeled as Catholic spirituality, Orthodox spirituality, Protestant
spirituality, Jewish spirituality, etc., and defined in a wide variety of ways by various
writers, the term seems to always include references to ultimate values, transcendence,
subjectivity, common good for the community, altruism and virtue.
Websters dictionary defined spirituality: as, of, relating to, consisting of, or
affecting the spirit; of or relating to sacred matters; ecclesiastical rather than lay or
temporal; concerned with religious values; of, related to, or joined in spirit. This
definition, though cryptic in its form, identified several important spiritual components.
It showed that spirituality affected the spirit and that it is considered to be sacred in
nature. It also made reference to religious values whose definitions are left up to the
particular religious tradition.
Some definitions of spirituality focused on attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
Wakefield (1983) defined spirituality as those attitudes, beliefs, practices, which
animate peoples lives and help them reach out towards super-sensible realities (p.
361). Evans (1993) defined spirituality as follows:
Spirituality consists primarily of a basic transformative process in which we
uncover and let go of our narcissism so as to surrender to the Mystery out of
which everything continually arises. In so far as such a surrender occurs, the
Mystery lives as us without our resistance, and we are the Mystery expressed in
human form. (p. 4)
The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (1983) provided the
following definition for spirituality:
This is a word which has come into vogue to describe those attitudes, beliefs,
practices which animate peoples lives and help them to reach out towards
super-sensible realities .... This means that Christian spirituality is not simply
for the interior life or the inward person, but as much for the body as for the
soul, and is directed to the implementation of both the commandments of
Christ, to love God and our neighbor. Indeed, our love, like Gods, should
extend to the whole creation. Christian spirituality at its most authentic
includes in its scope both humanity and nature, (pp. 351-362)
Both Evans and the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality identified
the component of a transcendent dimension in spirituality. In addition, the Westminster
Dictionary of Christian Spirituality pointed out a component of altruism which showed
that part of spirituality is recognizing a responsibility for others. Ritscher (1986)
supported the recognition of a transcendent dimension when he stated that spirituality
is the awareness that there is something more to life than just our narrow, ego-oriented
view of it (p. 61). Schneiders (1986) definition involved a total experience of
integrating ones life with a greater purpose which provides meaning to life. She
stated, In short, spirituality refers to the experience of consciously striving to integrate
ones life in terms not of isolation and self-absorption but of self-transcendence toward
the ultimate value one perceives (pp. 266-267).
McCreery (1994) said,
... the spiritual area is concerned with the awareness a person has of those
elements in existence and experience which may be defined in terms of inner
feelings and beliefs; they affect the way people see themselves and throw light
for them on the purpose and meaning of life itself. Often these feelings and
beliefs lead, people to claim to know God and to glimpse the transcendent;
sometimes they represent that striving and longing for perfection which
characterizes human beings but always they are concerned matters of the heart
and root of existence, (p. 93)
As these definitions show, there are common components that comprise the
phenomenon of spirituality regardless of religious tradition. These components fell into
six basic areas: They were:
1. A transcendent dimension to life which acts as a controlling factor,
2. A wholistic approach to life,
3. Certain values and beliefs regarding self and community,
4. A need for personal fulfillment on a supernatural level,
5. A need for a sense of well-being,
6. Interaction between self and life.
These six areas summarize common components found within many definitions
of spirituality. It is interesting to note that none of the above components identified a
specific need for a religious tradition in which to spiritually function. These
components were specific enough that spirituality can be discussed in light of its
importance to humankind, and yet general enough that the components related across
religious and philosophical boundaries.
Assessing Spiritual Orientation
Research (Shapiro & Fitzgerald, 1989; Gorsuch & McPherson, 1989; Allport &
Ross, 1967) has been conducted in the area of assessing the orientation of a person
toward spirituality. One researcher in particular had invested considerable amounts of
time in researching spirituality and developing an assessment tool.
David Elkins, Ph.D. professor of psychology in the Graduate School of
Education and Psychology of Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, had conducted
considerable research in the area of spirituality. Elkins (1988, 1995), had based his
research of spirituality on humanists Abraham Maslow, John Dewey, and others. From
his research he created the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI), an assessment tool to
measure a persons orientation toward nine different components of spirituality. The
inventory is used in this study to identify the spiritual orientation of a selected group of
higher education leaders. Chapter three provides an in depth discussion of the
developmental process of the SOI.
One goal of Elkins research was to define and describe spirituality. His
preliminary definition was that spirituality is a multidimensional construct consisting
of nine components (Elkins, 1988, p. 10).
The components and definitions are:
1. Transcendent dimension
The spiritual person has an experientially based belief that there is a
transcendent dimension to life. The actual content of this belief may
range from the traditional view of a personal God to a psychological
view that the transcendent dimension is simply a natural extension of
the conscious self into the regions of the unconscious or Greater Self.
But whatever the content, typology, metaphors, or models used to
describe the transcendent dimension, the spiritual person believes in the
morethat what is seen is not all there is. He or she believes in an
unseen world and that harmonious contact with, and adjustment to,
this unseen dimension is beneficial. The spiritual person is one who has;
experienced the transcendent dimension, often through what Maslow
referred to as peak experiences, and he or she draws personal power
through contact with this dimension.
2. Meaning and purpose in life
The spiritual person has known the quest for meaning and purpose and
has emerged from this quest with confidence that life is deeply
meaningful and that ones own existence has purpose. The actual
ground and content of this meaning vary from person to person, but the
common factor is that each person has filled the existential vacuum
with an authentic sense that life has meaning and purpose.
3. Mission in life
The spiritual person has a sense of vocation. He or she feels a sense
of responsibility to life, a calling to answer, a mission to accomplish, or
in some cases, even a destiny to fulfill. The spiritual person is
metamotivated and understands that it is in losing ones life that one
4. Sacredness of life
The spiritual person believes life is infused with sacredness and often
experiences a sense of awe, reverence, and wonder even in
nonreligious settings. He or she does not dichotomize life into sacred
and secular, holy and profane, but believes all of life is holy and that
the sacred is in the ordinary. The spiritual person is able to sacralize
or religionize all of life.
The spiritual person can appreciate material goods such as money and
possessions but does not seek ultimate satisfaction from them nor
attempt to use them as a substitute for frustrated spiritual needs. The
spiritual person knows that ontological thirst can only be quenched by
the spiritual and that ultimate satisfaction is found not in material, but
The spiritual person believes that we are our brothers keeper and is
touched by the pain and suffering of others. He or she has a strong
sense of social justice and is committed to altruistic love and action.
The spiritual person knows that no man is an island and that we are all
part of the continent of common humanity.
The spiritual person is a visionary committed to the betterment of the
world. He or she loves things for what they are yet also for what they
can become. The spiritual person is committed to high ideals and to the
actualization of positive potential in all aspects of life.
Awareness of the tragic
The spiritual person is solemnly conscious of the tragic realities of
human existence. He or she is deeply aware of human pain, suffering,
and death. The awareness gives depth to the spiritual person and
provides him or her with an existential seriousness toward life.
Somewhat paradoxically, however, awareness of the tragic enhances the
spiritual persons joy, appreciation, and valuing of life.
9. Fruits of spirituality
The spiritual person is one whose spirituality has borne fruit in his or
her life. True spirituality has a discernible effect upon ones
relationship to self, others, nature, life, and whatever one considers to
be the Ultimate.
From Elkins research came a more refined definition of spirituality which said
that spirituality is a way of being and experiencing that comes about through an
awareness of a transcendent dimension. It is characterized by certain identifiable values
in regard to self, others, nature, life, and whatever one considers to be the ultimate
(p.21). This definition provided the context in which spirituality was applied
throughout this study. Elkins Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI) had provided a
method not only to assess the spiritual orientation of a person but to also identify how
this person valued the importance of each component in his or her spirituality. This is
an important benefit of the SOI and one that will be utilized within this studys focus on
the spiritual orientation of higher education leaders.
Spiritualitys Influence on Other Areas
While empirical studies conducted on the influence of spirituality on higher
education leaders is virtually non-existent, there are studies that have been conducted in
other professional fields. This provides promise that the study of the influence of
spirituality on higher educational leaders can be done since it has has occurred in other
Mental Health. Spirituality was a major focus for the mental health field
(Banks, Poehler & Russell, 1984; Goodloe & Arreola, 1992) and psychology field
(Elkins, Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf & Saunders, 1988). In 1979, Jack Osman and Robert
Russell, while speaking to a group of health professionals, stated: ...the time now has
come to accept the spiritual as an important aspect of individual and corporate life and
a legitimate dimension of well-being (Goodloe & Arreola, 1992, p.221).
A number of qualitative findings clearly showed a relationship between well-
being and spirituality. Reed (1991) had been building a middle-range theory of self-
transcendence from a life span developmental perspective. His study groups included
both terminally ill adults and adults older than 80 years old. An initial study found that
terminally ill adults manifested personal religiosity to a greater degree than a
comparison group of healthy adults. Other studies (Gibbs & Achterberg-Lawlis, 1978;
Carson, Speken & Shanty, 1990) validated clinical observations of the therapeutic
value of the spiritual dimension regarding its relationship to mental health.
Banks (1980, cited in Banks et al, 1984) conducted a study to define the
spiritual dimension of health. She surveyed students and health education experts
regarding their perceptions of the spiritual dimension. Based on the results, she made
three observations. First, human spirituality is the core which integrates all the other
dimensions of a person and that it plays a vital role in determining the state of well-
being of the individual. Second, the spiritual dimension transcends the individual and
has the capacity to bond human beings together. Third, the spiritual dimension is
obscure and difficult to measure.
Poehler (1982) conducted a study which produced similar results. Participants
identified three critical items associated with the spiritual dimension: the expression of
concern for others, the opportunity to share, and the provision of a meaning and
purpose to life.
Bellingham and his co-authors (1989) concluded in their studies of people in the
United States, do not feel connected with themselves and others producing personal
despair, fear, and boredom, the result of a life void of meaning or purpose. In contrast,
a perspective of spiritual well-being provides the ability to live in the wholeness of
life (p. 18).
While spirituality may not be recognized by all health field practitioners, health
educators have given greater recognition to the spiritual dimension as an important
aspect of well-being, recognizing that spiritual considerations can be significant factors
in health-related decision-making (Goodloe & Arreola, 1992).
Organizational Management and Culture. According to Nevard (1991),
management is based on value judgments about human beings, and spirituality provided
the leader with direction and purpose for making these judgments. One of Japans most
admired businessmen and premier entrepreneurs, Kazuo Inamori, chairman of Kyocera
Corporation and DDI Corporation, described the influence of spirituality on his
management philosophy with the words respect the Divine and love people
(Taninecz, 1995). These words underlied his philosophical approach to running
successful companies. Ken Melrose, CEO of the Toro Company, placed his ability to
lead the organization from bankruptcy to financial prosperity upon his leadership
philosophy that Toro had a corporate soul which continually needed fostering. He
described the soul of the organization as what you think and feel (Osborne, 1995).
According to Melrose, his management team had learned to lead by serving others. An
in-house program called Pride in Excellence was based upon his philosophical,
motivational, and spiritual principles that have guided his own career.
Studies and research reports have focused on the influence of spirituality on
cultures and individuals (Banks, 1979; Hawkins, 1991; Henson, 1991; Lee, 1991; Neck
& Milliman, 1994; Nevard, 1991; Poehler, 1982; Russell, 1981). Past and current
studies showed that the integration of spirituality into organizations had a positive
influence on leaders and employees. Richard Barrett (Laabs, 1995), a principal urban
transport specialist for the World Bank in Washington, D.C., started a Spiritual
Unfoldment Society at his company of 6,000 employees. Fifty to eighty people met to
discuss a variety of spiritual topics. According to Barrett, the group focused especially
on coping with the work environment by increasing their perspective on life.
Higher Education. During the 19th century, spirituality was a major
component upon which American Universities were established. This was evident
through the 1890s when almost all state universities held compulsory chapel services
and some required attendance at Church (Marsden, 1994, p. 3). In addition, many
schools required one or more courses in theology as part of graduation requirements.
During this time period, the university represented an important part of American
religious and cultural establishment. However, in the early 20th century, a philosophical
change occurred in higher education. The hold that Protestantism once held on the
make-up of higher education began to loosen resulting in a fundamental shift in the
importance of spirituality as expressed through religion. This has created an
educational environment almost totally void of any resemblance to the early
institutions. According to Nord (1995), there are two reasons for this shift. First,
Western civilization has become more secular. Religion responded by becoming more
of a private matter, separated more and more from academic thought and ideals.
Subsequently, many people have learned to compartmentalize religion so that it has
few implications for how we live our lives or how we think about the world in
academic disciplines (p.3). The theologian Cupitt (1984) said that since Darwin,
religion has played no part in any major branch of knowledge. In addition, religious
belief may anchor us reassuredly in the past; but it is of little use in the present
Second, according to studies conducted by Nord and independent pollsters such
as Gallup and associates, intellectuals, responsible for writing textbooks, shaping
curriculum, and teaching teachers, are much less religious than most people. The
great majority of scholars view religion as irrelevant to their subjects, and a few regard
it as superstition to be combated (p. 4). This created an educational environment
where spirituality is tolerated but not encouraged.
However, this appears to be changing. Collins, Hurst, & Jacobson (1987), are
representing a growing number of advocates who belief that students should be
afforded the same privilege and extended the same opportunity to attain spiritual
development as that are given in other areas related to student development. Over the
years universities have had to deal with issues such as feminism, political activism,
sexual preference, divergent lifestyles, and others. Collins, Hurst, & Jacobson asked,
What restricts attention to spirituality in exactly the same way? (p.274).
This is a question worth asking. It appears that a movement has begun to
reintroduce spirituality back in to institutions of higher learning. Rue (1985) stated
the situation, when he said, Religion has always been there...[forming] our self-
understanding, our values, and our public life. It will always be there (p.40). Some
believe that this even more true for spirituality.
This concludes a review of the origin of the term spirituality; several spiritual
traditions, the formative process of spirituality, definitions, assessment of spiritual
orientation, and the influence of spirituality in other professional fields. The next
section focuses on what the literature provided related to the influence of spirituality on
leadership practices, the creation and development of a specific leadership philosophy
with a spiritual basis, and the integration of spirituality with servant-leadership
One could conclude after investigating the literature that spirituality in
relation to leadership hass become a widely discussed topic. Both Peck (1978) and
Covey (1989) have authored books on spirituality in the workplace that have been on
best-seller lists for over 500 weeks, a testimony to the great popular interest of
spirituality and leadership.
Leadership and Spirituality
The literature showed a high level of interest in research which focused on the
influence of spirituality on leadership practices (McCormick, 1994; Dehler & Welsh,
1994; Neck & Milliman, 1994; Nevard, 1991). Studies showed that corporate leaders
whose practices were influenced by their spirituality fostered work environments which
allowed employees to achieve greater personal and work satisfaction (Osborne, 1995;
Henson, 1991; Lee, 1991).
Jacobsen (1994) produced a dissertation on Spirituality and Transformational
Leadership in Secular Settings in which he researched the relationship between
spirituality and a leaders ability to have a transformational effect (p.4) on the
organization. McNeil-Walling (1994) contributed to this area of research with her
dissertation entitled Spirituality and Leadership, which looked at the common
boundaries between leadership and spirituality outside of a religious context.
Sergiovanni (1992) discussed in his book the importance of recognizing moral
authority, a component of spirituality, as a critical basis of leadership. He stated:
By giving more credence to sense experience and intuition, and by accepting
sacred authority and emotion as fully legitimate ways of knowing, equal in value
to secular authority, science, and deductive logic, the value systems
undergirding management theory and leadership practice will grow large
enough to account for a new kind of leadership one based on moral authority.
This quote signified the importance of recognizing and integrating spirituality
and ones value system in creating a new leadership philosophy. Bums (1979)
recognized the important responsibility of moral leaders to influence society. In his
discussions of moral leadership, which he also referred to as reform leadership, he
stated that reform leaders... must be willing to transform society, or parts of it, if that
is necessary to realize moral principles (p. 170).
In addition, Bums stated that an intellectual/transforming leadership philosophy
required that Leaders engage with followers, but from higher levels of morality; in the
emeshing of goals and values both leaders and followers are raised to more principle
levels of judgment (p.455). Vaills (1990) interest and work on spirituality focused on
organizational leaders. He was concerned about the spiritual condition and growth of
executives and the impact that the lack of spiritual growth will have a negative impact
on organizational cultures in the future. Owen (1987) argued that we should view
organizations as spirit and flow and that the task of leadership is to focus spirit and
enhance its power.
Peter Vaill (1990) questioned the spiritual condition, present and future, of the
men and women who are organizational leaders (p. 324). He asked, What are the
implications for the spiritual condition and the spiritual growth of individual executives
of the need for them to foster vision, vitality, and spirit in the organizations they lead
Organizations such as The Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership
(Indianapolis, Indiana) and the Theology of Institutions Project (Charlemont,
Massachusetts) have created ways to assist businesses and educational organizations in
better understanding spiritual and servant-leadership processes.
Recognizing the lack of integrating spirituality with leadership, Robert K.
Greenleaf, in 1977, determined to create a leadership philosophy which relied on a
spiritual foundation. His leadership philosophy became widely known as servant-
While the concept of serving others originated thousands of years ago, the
concept of applying a servant attitude to leadership is recent.
Many books and articles have been written on the subject of servant leadership
(Spears, 1995; Williams, 1996; Renesh, 1994; Frick, 1996; Fraker, 1996). Greenleaf
(1977) presented an interesting new approach to the topic of leadership. He believed
that the United States was in a leadership crisis and that he should do what he could
about it. Greenleaf indicated that the information which filled his book and earlier
manuscripts were drawn more from personal experience and searching than from
Robert Greenleaf created the servant leadership concept. It emerged during
the 1960's and 1970's during which many problems were prevalent on college
campuses. Greenleaf stated that, "It was a searing experience to watch distinguished
institutions show their frailty and crumble, to search for an understanding of what
happened to them, and try to help heal their wounds" (p. 3). His book, Servant
Leadership: A Journey Into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, has become
the cornerstone of servant-leadership. Its chapters cover the development of the
servant-leadership concept and application of the servant-leadership concept to a
number of different types of organizations.
Origin. To fully understand servant-leadership it was necessary to know the
origin whince the concept came. Greenleaf s servant-leadership concept resulted from
reading Hermann Hesse's Journey to the East (1956). Hesse's story was about a group
of men on a mythical journey.
As Greenleaf explained,
In this story we see a band of men on a mythical journey...
The central figure of the story is Leo, who accompanies the
party as the servant who does their menial chores, but who
also sustains them with his spirit and song. He is a person
of extraordinary presence. All goes well until Leo disappears.
Then the group falls into disarray and the journey is abandoned.
They cannot make it without the servant Leo. The narrator,
one of the party, after some years of wandering, finds Leo and
is taken into the Order that had sponsored the journey. There
he discovers that Leo, whom he had known first as servant,
was in fact the titular head of the Order, its guiding spirit, a great
and noble leader, (p. 7)
To Greenleaf, this story said that "the great leader is seen as servant first and
that simple fact is the key to his greatness" (p. 7). His servant focus influenced his
aspiration to lead. The servant-leader asked: How can I use myself to serve best? He
demonstrated listening and understanding skills, acceptance and empathy, sensed the
unknowable and foresaw the unforeseeable. Servant-leaders must be "situational" in
their approach to addressing the needs of the individual, group or organization. He
cited early American leaders such as John Woolman and Thomas Jefferson. Woolman,
living during the 18th century, spent 30 of his 52 years committed to removing slavery
ownership from American Quakers. Through gentle and persistent persuasion, his task
was completed almost 100 years before the Civil War. Jeffersons vision for the
colonies during the Revolutionary War, drove his efforts to help create a land of
independence. Jeffersons influence on the independence of the early colonies went far
beyond his presidential role. Both Woolman and Jefferson demonstrated their
situational approach to leadership by being available to others.
The term "situational" was used in a different way by Hersey and Blanchard
(1988). In Hersey and Blanchards Situational Leadership Model, situational refers to
identifying the best leadership style based upon the relationship and task needs, and the
maturity level of the followers. Greenleaf s use of the word was deeper in context,
incorporating more innate characteristics. Greenleaf s use of the term incorporates a .
wider sphere of influence. In addition to thinking about the needs of the followers and
the organization, but also to consider environmental factors such may be affected by
the decisions and activities of the leader-follower relationship. Yet, for the servant-
leader, the relationship between the leader and the follower received the highest
priority. Greenleafs litmus test for determining ones servant attitude was, "Do those
served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer,
more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect
on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?"
Answers to these questions became more evident as the servant leader concept
was applied to organizations. In the application of servant-leader to organizations
Greenleaf said that the "first order of business is to build a group of people who, under
the influence of the institution (servant attitude orientation), grow taller and become
healthier, stronger, more autonomous." (p. 40). This was a people building approach.
This attitude cannot be practiced in a stagnate environment. As with transformational
leaders (Bums, 1979), servant leaders do not accept a situation as is but looks for ways
to change it. With both types of leaders there were attempts made to help the follower
rise above his/her current state and become all that he/she could be.
Characteristics. According to Spear ( 1995, pp. 4-7), there are ten critical
characteristics of the servant-leader. They are:
1. Listening: Traditionally, leaders have been valued for their
communication and decision-making skills. Servant-leaders must
reinforce these important skills by making a deep commitment to
listening intently to others. Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify
the will of a group. They seek to listen receptively to what is being said
(and not being said!). Listening also encompasses getting in touch with
ones own inner voice, and seeking to understand what ones body,
spirit, and mind are communicating. Listening, coupled with regular
periods of reflection, are essential to the growth of the servant-leader.
2. Empathy: Servant-leaders strive to understand and empathize with
others, people need to be accepted and recognized for their special and
unique spirits. One must assume the good intentions of co-workers
and not reject them as people, even when forced to reject their
behavior or performance. The most successful servant-leaders are
those who have become skilled empathetic listeners.
3. Healing: Learning to heal is a powerful force for transformation and
integration. One of the great strengths of servant-leadership is the
potential for healing ones self and others. Many people have broken
spirits and have suffered from a variety of emotional hurts. Although
this is a part of being human, servant-leaders recognize that they have an
opportunity to help make whole those with whom they come in contact.
4. Awareness: General awareness, and especially self-awareness,
strengthens the servant-leader. Awareness also aids in understanding
issues involving ethics and values. It enables one to view most
situations from a more integrated position.
5. Persuasion: Another characteristic of servant-leaders is a reliance upon
persuasion, rather than positional authority, in making decisions within
an organization. Servant-leaders seek to convince others, rather than
coerce compliance. The servant-leader is effective at building consensus
6. Conceptualization: Servant-leaders seek to nurture their abilities to
dream great dreams. The ability to look at a problem (or an
organization) from a conceptualizing perspective means that one must
look beyond day-to-day realities.
7. Foresight: The ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation is
hard to define, but easy to identify. One knows it when one sees it.
Foresight is a characteristic that enables servant-leaders to understand
the lessons from the past, the realities of the present, and the likely
consequence of a decision for the future. It is deeply rooted within the
intuitive mind. Thus foresight is the one servant-leader characteristic
with which one may be bom. All other characteristics can be
8. Stewardship: Peter Block has defined stewardship as holding
something in trust for another. Servant-leadership, like stewardship,
assumes first and foremost a commitment to serving the needs of others.
It also emphasizes the use of openness and persuasion, rather than
9. Commitment to the growth of people: Servant-leaders believe that
people have an intrinsic value beyond their tangible contributions as
workers. As such, servant-leaders are deeply committed to the
personal, professional, and spiritual growth of each and every individual
within the institution.
10. Building community: Servant-leaders are aware that the shift from
local communities to large institutions as the primary shaper of human
lives has changed our perceptions and caused a certain sense of loss.
Thus, servant-leaders seek to identify a means for building community
among those who work within a given institution.
Benefits. Why should an organization want to encourage a servant-leadership
philosophy? What are the benefits?
According to Peck (as cited in Spears, 1995) servant-leaders emphasize service
to others, a holistic approach to work, personal development, and shared decision-
making all characteristics necessary to promote empowerment, total quality and
participative management (p. 100). In their book, In Search of Excellence. Peters and
Waterman (1982) underscore the role of the servant-leader, by showing that a caring
attitude toward employees pays off through a stronger team spirit and sense of
Block identified stewardship, a key characteristic of servant-leadership, as a
benefit to having a servant-leader philosophy. In his book, Stewardship: Choosing
Service Over Self-Interest (1993), he defines stewardship as the willingness to be
accountable for the well-being of the larger organization by operating in service, rather
than in control, of those around us. Stated simply, it is accountability without control
Spears (1995) wrote:
Traditional autocratic and hierarchical models of leadership are yielding to a
newer model that enhances personal growth and improves quality through a
combination of teamwork and community, personal involvement in decision
making, and ethical and caring behavior. This emerging approach to leadership
and service is called servant-leadership... Its seeds have been planted, and have
begun to sprout in the hearts of individuals who long to improve the human
condition. Servant-leadership offers hope and guidance for a new era in human
development, (p. 2)
An example is Sandy Shugart, President of North Harris College in Texas, who
adopted the servant-leadership philosophy for his organization. He believed that the
servant-leader approach could address institutional problems by helping administrators
learn to listen more, than direct.
The literature provided ample support regarding the benefits of implementing
the servant-leadership philosophy into an organization.
Servant-Leadership and the Educational Institution. Greenleaf (1977) took
the servant-leadership concept and applied it to a variety of organizations: businesses,
foundations, churches, governmental and, educational. He began his discussion with a
thesis, "Caring for persons, the more able and the less able serving each other, is the
rock upon which a good society is built" (p. 49).
He began by reviewing the structure of institutions. This structure may have
been a hierarchical approach which placed one person in charge atop of a pyramidal
structure. Greenleaf suggested that a better way to set up an organization was by using
a principle tradition developed by the Romans. In this tradition, the principle leader
was 'primus inter pares' which translated to "first among equals". There was still a first,
a leader, but that leader was not the 'chief. This approach is difficult to understand
apart from Greenleaf s rational. Greenleaf proposed that a group of trustees share the
role as leader, rather than a single person. Greenleaf explained that to be a lone chief
atop a pyramid was abnormal and corrupting. He said that, "The pyramidal structure
weakens informal links, dries up channels of honest reaction and feedback, and creates
limiting chief-subordinate relationships which, at the top, can seriously penalize the
whole organization" (p. 63). On the other hand, when a trustee group with a 'primus
inter pares' (first among equals) headed up the organization, there was less chance for
one person to hold too much power and practice sole decision making. The trustee
group assumed greater responsibility for the direction of the organization. Greenleaf
believed that there needed to be a paradigm shift from the traditional view of the
trustee board as only overseers to a servant leader oriented trustee board that was more
actively involved in the pursuit and development of a vision. Because power would
need to be evenly distributed, this shift was a very difficult task for organizations which
operated within a strong political framework (Bolman & Deal, 1991).
Greenleaf provided valuable information regarding the application of the
servant leader concept to business, religious, foundation, and educational institutions.
Concerning education, Greenleaf said, "there is a growing disquiet about the gap
between what we need and what we now have in education" (p. 163). According to
Greenleaf, the whole educational enterprise was at fault on three major points.
First, I fault it for the refusal to offer explicit preparation for leadership to
those who have the potential for it..My second concern for the process of
education is the general attitude of educators toward social mobility...The
third concern I have for education is the state of confusion I sense regarding
the teaching of values... (p. 164)
He identified additional concerns at a talk given to a group of trustees at the
Friends Council on Education, Westtown School, on January 19-21, 1973. These
issues related to power and authority and their relationship to secondary education.
Concern #1: The assumption that some individuals knew what
another ought to learn, and were justified in imposing their
judgment backed up by sanctions.
Concern #2: The fact that our whole system of education rested on coercion:
first the legal requirement for attending school until age 16 18;
then built-in compulsion to continue academic education by the
credentialing that began with the secondary school diploma and
continues through the Ph.D. degree and beyond.
Greenleaf thought that it was time for change, it was time to re-evaluate the
system. Greenleaf admitted that the "tunnel will be dark and long" but necessary.
It is this kind of mindset which was required to move forward in identifying
and implementing change which at times may have seemed strenuous and confusing,
however, necessary. This may have involved the development of more servant leaders,
implementing servant-leader concepts in organizations and/or making change for the
overall benefit of our society.
This chapter began by reviewing the historical origin of the term spirituality,
several spiritual traditions, and the formation process. In addition, a number of
definitions of spirituality were cited. Common spiritual components were discussed
and a working definition adopted for this study as well as an assessment for measuring
the spiritual orientation of a person. Several professions, where spirituality has had
major influence, were presented.
The literature clearly showed that the phenomenon of spirituality is very real
and worthy of continual research. Some have viewed this spiritual awareness as a
revolutionary concept as early as 1973. Harold K. Schilling (1973), Emeritus Professor
of Physics and Dean of the Graduate School, Pennsylvania State University states
Something is happening to man that is so momentous as to constitute a major
emergence in his revolution. He is experiencing a tremendous expansion and
transformation of his consciousness...
Integrating spirituality with leadership practices was examined in this chapter.
The literature identified that one leadership philosophy in particular, servant-
leadership, anchored its principles more in the realm of spirituality than most of the
others leadership approaches.
Noel Perrin said that, "Robert Greenleaf is one of the wisest men I know.... To
read this book (Servant-Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power
and Greatness) is to get the benefit of his thoughts for your own life. You will find it a
liberating experience" (Greenleaf, 1977, back cover).
A servant-leadership philosophy recognizes the importance of spiritual values as
a basis for leadership behaviors. According to Spears (1995), Servant leaders
emphasizes increased service to others, a holistic approach to work, a sense of
community, and shared decision-making power (pp.3-4). Who is a servant-leader?
Greenleaf (1991) wrote that servant-leadership began:
...with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then
conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. The difference manifests itself in
the care taken by the servant first to make sure that other peoples highest
priority needs are being served. The best test is: Do those served grow as
persons; do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more
autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? (pp. 13-14)
Chapter three now looks at the methodology used in this study to investigate
the developmental processes of spirituality and leadership practices of a select group of
higher education leaders who hold a high orientation toward spirituality.
The purpose of this study is to explore the developmental processes of
spirituality and leadership practices among selected higher education leaders who have
expressed an interest in servant-leadership and who hold a high orientation toward
To explore these processes, the following research questions were addressed.
1. What is the spiritual profile of a select group of higher education leaders?
2. How does this group of higher education leaders perceive the development
of their spirituality?
3. How does a select group of higher education leaders, holding a high
orientation toward spirituality, perceive their current leadership practices?
4. How does a select group of higher education leaders, holding a high
orientation toward spirituality, perceive the development of their leadership
5. What do selected higher education leaders believe to be the specific spiritual
components that influence the development of their leadership practices?
The spiritual orientation of a selected group of higher education leaders was
assessed with a measurement called the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI). The
assessment tool (Appendix A) was designed by David Elkins, Ph.D. professor of
psychology in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine
University in Los Angeles. The SOI measures (Appendix B) the degree of a persons
orientation toward spirituality.
Four major assumptions formed the foundation of Dr. Elkins, et al.(1988, p. 8)
work on the development of the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI).
1. There is a dimension of human experiencewhich includes certain values,
attitudes, perspectives, beliefs, emotions, and so onwhich can best be
described as a spiritual dimension or spirituality.
2. Spirituality is a human phenomenon and exists, at least potentially, in all
3. Spirituality is not the same as religiosity, if religiosity is defined to mean
participation in the particular beliefs, rituals, and activities of traditional,
religion. Therefore, it is possible for persons to be spiritual even though
not affiliated with traditional religion.
4. By means of theoretical and phenomenological approaches, it is possible to
define and describe spirituality and to develop an approach to its
The SOI measured orientation toward spirituality. The developmental process
of the instrument began with a review of published measures of religiosity and
spirituality (Allport & Ross, 1967; Yinger, 1969; Hood, 1970). In the construction of
the inventory, the first step was to generate a pool of items covering nine components
of spirituality found in the work of Dr. Elkins, et al. (1988, pp. 11-12). These are as
follows and are defined in chapter one of this study.
1. Transcendent dimension
2. Meanins and purpose in life
3. Mission in life
4. Sacredness of life
5. Material values
8. Awareness of the tragic
9. Fruits of spiritualitv
The second step carried out by Dr. Elkins, involved a preliminary item
delimitation and content validity study. Five experts in psychology and spirituality
were presented with 200 items for evaluation. Each expert was instructed to determine
their reactions to an item,
... including, but not limited to, such criteria as clarity, readability, goodness of
fit with the factor of spirituality under consideration, and their own agreement
or disagreement with the content of the item as being relevant to spirituality.
(Elkins, et al. 1988, p. 13)
Items that did not receive an average rating of 4 according to a Likert-type
guide (1: unacceptable; 2: poor; 3: average; 4: good; 5: excellent) were eliminated.
The 200 items were scaled down to 157 items.
The construction of the preliminary form was based on these 157 items which
reflected the nine components of spirituality. The first statistical study of the inventory
was a small reliability study (Elkins, Hughes et al., 1986). The inventory was given to
25 subjects. Internal reliability ranged from .75 to .94 for the nine scales. In 1987,
Elkins conducted an alpha reliability study. In this study, alpha ranged from .81 to .98
for the nine scales.
Lauri and Elkins (1988) conducted a construct validity study. The scores of 24
adults identified by a panel as highly spiritual persons were compared to the scores of
96 psychology graduate students. The research hypothesis was that high spirituals
would score significantly higher on the Spiritual Orientation Inventory than the
graduate students (p. 15). A one-tailed t-test data analysis indicated that the total
inventory and eight of the nine subscales significantly differentiated between the two
groups in the direction specified.'
Further statistical studies trimmed the research form to the current 85 items.
This shorter form has an alpha range from .75 to .95 on the nine scales. This form
(Appendix A) was used in this study.
The SOI, when used in this study, was given to 56 higher education leaders
who were selected with the assistance of the Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.
Thirty-three leaders returned the survey for a 60% response rate. According to Rea and
Parker (1997), a response rate of 50 to 60 percent is satisfactory for reporting of
findings (p. 69). Two leaders declined to participate in the study and one leader did
not fit the criteria of working in a higher educational institution. The remaining group
size was 30 higher education leaders. The SOI total scores for this group of leaders
ranged from 377 573 on the SOI scale of 85 595 with a median point of 491.50.
After the SOI raw scores were analyzed, the 50% (N=l 5) of higher education
leaders whose SOI total scores placed above the median of 491.50 were invited to be
interviewed one-on-one over the telephone. Of the 15, two declined due to job
demands. This provided a final interview group of 13 leaders.
A letter was sent to each of the higher education leaders chosen for this phase
of the study. The letter requested their participation and included an interview guide
and list of interview questions. A follow-up telephone call was made asking permission
to interview the leader and requesting a convenient time to call back for the interview.
Interviews were approximately 30 to 45 minutes in length. Each leader was informed
that the interview was being taped.
The interviews were audio taped using a special recording device and tape
recorder. Each tape was transcribed by a professional and coded for confidentiality.
Key words and phrases were identified and evaluated regarding patterns of thoughts
and/or ideas. The data from the interviews and the Spiritual Orientation Inventory was
used to respond to the research questions.
Sample Population Selection
The population studied was a sample of higher education leaders (N = 56) who
had attended past conferences and/or workshops on servant-leadership that were
conducted by the Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership. These 56
leaders were identified through the assistance of the Center. The Robert K. Greenleaf
Center for Servant-Leadership is an international organization whose mission is to
teach servant-leadership principles to leaders in corporate and educational institutions.
The Center is a non-religious organization whose programs are available to people of
all nationalities and creed.
An 85-question survey (Spiritual Orientation Survey) developed by David
Elkins, Ph.D. was sent to each of these participants to measure their level of orientation
toward spirituality. Spirituality is defined in the Definition of Terms section in .
Thirty-three surveys were returned (60% response). Two participants declined
to take part in the study due to job transitions and, one was eliminated from the study
because the participant did not work in a higher education organization. This provided
a study group of 30 higher education leaders. The overall total score of each
participants survey fell between a range of 377 573. The SOI scale was 85 595
points. The median score was 491.50. All of the participants scores fell into the upper
40 percentile of the SOI scale.
The 85 survey questions were categorized into nine spiritual components.
Responses to each question were indicated on a Likert-scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high).
Overall survey scores were compiled by adding up the total number of points for each
of the nine spiritual components. To maximize the use of the data from the SOI, the
group of 30 was broken into two even groups of 15 leaders based on the median point
of 491.50. The scores of the 15 leaders which were below the median point ranged
from 377 -491. The scores of the 15 leaders whose scores were above the median
point ranged from 492 573.
This group of 15 leaders whose scores were above the median point of 491.50
became the sample group and were asked to participate in one-on-one telephone
interviews designed to gather further data on the development of their spirituality and
leadership practices. Because the focus of this study was on those higher education
leaders who showed a high spiritual orientation, only the upper group was chosen to
participate further in this study.
This data was used with the Spiritual Orientation Inventory analysis
in chapter four. Significant differences in various mini-group responses were
identified and discussed.
The research process was conducted in two phases.
Fifty-six higher education leaders who had an interest in servant-leadership
were identified with the assistance of the Robert Greenleaf Center for Servant-
Leadership for this study. These leaders were chosen based upon their participation in
a conference and/or workshop on servant-leadership. Each was sent a letter (Appendix
D) requesting their participation in this study. The 56 higher education leaders were
sent' the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI), an 85-item survey designed to measure
spiritual orientation in relation to nine different components. The returned SOIs were
scored by the researcher.
Since it was the intent of this study to investigate the developmental processes
of spirituality and leadership practices among those leaders who hold a high
orientation toward spirituality, only the upper 50% of the leaders whose accumulated
component scores in phase one were above the median point of 491.50 were asked to
participate in one-to-one telephone interviews. A second letter asking for their
participation was sent. In addition, a list of interview questions and interview guide
were included with the letter. The interview questions developed by this researcher
were designed to solicit the perceptions of the sample group of fifteen higher education
leaders regarding the development of their spirituality and leadership practices
(Appendix F). Two leaders were unable to participate due to work demands. Thirteen
leaders agreed to be interviewed.
The interview questions were:
1. What adjectives would best describe your character when building long-
term leader-follower relationships?
2. What leadership practices demonstrate these adjectives?
A special recording device and cassette tape recorder was used to record the
responses of the interviewee. This allowed the researcher the opportunity to take notes
if necessary. Upon completion of each of the interviews the recorded information was
transcribed by a professional transcriber.
Confidentiality was maintained throughout each of these research phases.
Actual names and organization affiliation were not stated in the study. The leader was
identified in the study by initials, type of institution, state of location, and job title.
Data Analysis and Interpretation
Responses to the research questions will be discussed according to one or both
of the following two theoretical frameworks.
2. Servant-leadership philosophy
Framework One Spirituality
Elkins research on spirituality identified nine components (see Definition of
Terms section in chapter one). These components represent various elements of
humanistic spirituality. His instrument called the Spiritual Orientation Inventory (SOI)
measures the orientation of the participant towards spirituality overall and towards each
of these nine components specifically. Degree of orientation toward spirituality is
determined by taking the sum of all of the totals for each component. In addition,
group and individual total scores for each component were analyzed to determine those
components that appeared to be stronger than others. Two-tailed, t-tests were
conducted to determined significant differences in responses (alpha level = .05,
t-DIST = 2.04).
Framework Two Servant-Leadership
A review of the literature showed, that the servant-leadership philosophy relies
heavily on a spiritual foundation as the basis of its development and subsequent
leadership practices. Servant-leadership holds characteristics that could be considered
spiritual in nature.
Those characteristics are:
9. Commitment to the growth of people
10. Building community
Servant-leadership, developed by Robert K. Greenleaf (1977), parallels the
spiritual focus of this study. The data gathered from interview questions #2, #3, and #5
will be analyzed using the servant-leadership philosophy and its ten characteristics as
the framework. Additional information related to the original development of this
philosophy and the qualifying characteristics of this philosophy were discussed in
This study is designed to contribute to a better understanding of the
developmental processes of spirituality and leadership practices by investigating
spirituality and leadership among a select group of higher education leaders. An
inventory created to measure a persons orientation toward spirituality and a list of nine
interview questions were the methods by which the data were gathered.
To respond to research question number one, What is the spiritual profile of a
select group of higher education leaders?, data from the SOI and interview question
number five How would you describe your spirituality? was used.
For research question number two, How does this group perceive the
development of their spirituality?, interview question number six What activities,
number eight How have the top three ranked components influenced the development
of your leadership practices?
This chapter presented and discussed the research methodology used in this
study on the developmental processes of spirituality and leadership practices among
selected higher education leaders.
Chapter four provides answers to the research questions using the data from the
SOI and interview findings. Chapter five provides conclusions, implications for higher
education leaders, and recommendations for further studies.
FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
The purpose of this study was to explore the developmental processes of
spirituality and leadership practices among selected higher education leaders who have
expressed an interest in servant leadership and who hold a high orientation toward
spirituality. This study integrated quantitative data gathered from the Spiritual
Orientation Inventory (Elkins, Hedstrom, Hughes, Leaf & Saunders, 1988) and
qualitative data attained from one-on-one telephone interviews with higher education
leaders. The study was conducted in two phases.
Fifty-six higher education leaders who had an interest in servant-leadership
were identified with the assistance of the Robert Greenleaf Center for Servant-
Leadership. The 56 higher-education leaders were sent the Spiritual Orientation
Inventory (SOI), an 85-item survey designed to measure spiritual orientation to nine
different components. Those nine components were:
1. Transcendent dimension (TD1
2. Meaning and purpose in life IMP)
Mission in life (ML)
4. Sacredness of life (SL)
5. Material values (MV)
6. Altruism CA)
7. Idealism ('ll
8. Awareness of the tragic (AT)
9. Fruits of spirituality (FSI
These nine components were defined in chapter one of this study and are
referred to throughout this chapter. When they were used in a table (ie., table 4.4-
Individual and Group SOI Scores), they were identified with an abreviation such as
TD for transcendent dimension, MP for meaning and purpose in life, etc.
Thirty-three of the 56 SOI surveys were returned, with 30 meeting criteria
required to be considered for phase two of the study (high orientation toward
spirituality and employment at an institution of higher education).
Data gathered from the SOI in phase one provided a general spiritual profile for
the group of thirty leaders. The findings from this phase were used in phase two to
determine a sample group of leaders to be interviewed.
Fifteen of the thrity leaders were selected through phase one for interviewing,
due to their high scores on the SOI. Two individuals declined to participate; thus,
thirteen interviews were conducted for this study.
As in phase one, the SOI results were used to provide a spiritual profile of this
group of thirteen leaders. In addition, key words, phrases, and patterns of thoughts
and/or ideas have been identified from the interview questions to provide additional
data for creating a spiritual profile as well as address the developmental processes of
spirituality and leadership practices. Quotes from the interviews are included in this
chapter to provide depth to the analysis and discussion. To maintain confidentiality,
quotes have been identified by the leaders initials only.
Data obtained from the SOI in phase one, and the interviews conducted in
phase two, have been used to answer the following research questions:
1. What is the spiritual profile of a select group of higher education
2. How does this group of leaders perceive the development of their
3. How does a select group of education leaders holding a high orientation
toward spirituality perceive their current leadership practices?
4. How does a select group of higher education leaders holding a high
orientation toward spirituality perceive the development of their
5. What do selected higher education leaders believe to be the specific
spiritual components that influence the development of their leadership
Each of these research questions have been have been addressed throughout
Question #1: What Is The Spiritual Profile of a Select Group of Higher Education
Data relevant to this question will be analyzed first for the population of 30
higher education leaders who responded to the SOI, and then for the 13 higher
education leaders who were also interviewed for this study. Data analyzed to respond
to this question for the population of 30 leaders includes responses to the SOI. Data
analyzed to respond to this question for the sample population of 13 leaders includes
responses to the SOI and also responses to the interview question, How would you
describe your spirituality? Demographic data is considered for both populations
when establishing spiritual profiles.
General Demographic Profile for the Population Group of Thirty Leaders. The term
demographics is defined by Websters Dictionary as characteristics of a human
population, such as growth, size, and vital statistics. Demographics are an important
part of any study related to human subjects, for they provide valuable information that
help to better understand the environment in which the population under investigation
functions. It is important to know vital statistics related to this studys population:
higher educational leaders. These statistics help to establish the framework by which to
view the findings in this study. First, Table 4.1 presents general population statistics
for the thirty higher education leaders whose SOI scores were used in phase one.
Table 4.1 provides a breakdown of the group by gender, number of years in their
current position, number of staff, position title, type of higher education institution, and
location of the institution.
General Demographics for the Population Group of Thirty Leaders
Description Higher Education Leaders
Sample Size = 30
Gender Female = 7 Male = 23
Time in Position < 6 months =3 7-8 years = 3 1 2 years =1 9-10 years = 3 3-4 years =1 >10 years 14 5-6 years = 5
Number of Staff <3 =H 13-15 -2 4-6 =4 16-18 =1 7-9 =8 >19 =1 10-12 =3
Positions Presidents =10 Directors = 7 Deans = 2 Chairs = 4 Professors = 5 Others = 2
Type of Institution University = 11 College =11 Community College = 6 Technical = 1 Military = 1
Location Alabama = 1 Minnesota = 1 Arizona = 1 Mississippi = 1 California = 2 Missouri = 1 Colorado = 2 New Mexico = 1 Florida = 1 North Carolina = 1 Illinois = 1 Ohio = 3 Indiana = 1 Pennsylvania = 1 Iowa = 1 South Carolina = 2 Kansas = 1 Texas = 1 Kentucky = 1 Wisconsin = 2 Michigan = 4
Table 4.1 clearly shows the diversity of the thirty leaders participating in phase
one. The data in this table showed that females (N = 7) represented 23% of the group,
and males (N = 23) represented 77%. Almost half (46%) of the group have been in
their positions ten years or more. Thirty-seven percent have been in their positions five
to nine years.
Nineteen (63%) of the respondents were responsible for four or more
employees. This shows that most of the leaders had supervisory responsibilities and
thus were expected to practice management and leadership skills. Thirty-three percent
of the leaders held a Presidents position within their institution. Twenty-three percent
held a Director position. Other positions included Professors, Chairs, Deans, and other
leadership positions. The leaders represented a variety of higher education institutions
such as universities, colleges, community colleges, a technical and military college.
Only 7% of the institutions had a religious affilition. The leaders were from a wide
geographical area representing twenty-one states.
Table 4.1 provided a demographic profile of group one. But what is the
spiritual profile of these thirty higher education leaders? Data from the SOI follows
to provide a look at the spiritual orientation of this group.
Spiritual Profile of the Population Group of Thirty Leaders. The results of the SOI for
group one (30 leaders) are shown in table 4.2. This table provides the final raw score
for each of the leaders. In addition, it provides the number of leaders whose final
scores were similar.
SOI Results for the Population of Thirty Leaders (Scale = 85 595^
TOTAL FREQUENCY PERCENT CUMULATIVE
SCORE OF OCCURANCE PERCENTAGE
377 1 3.3. 3.3
411 1 3.3 6.7
413 1 3.3 10.0
415 1 J.JJ 13.3
437 1 3.3 16.7
441 2 6.7 23.3
450 1 3.3 26.7
458 1 3.3 30.0
465 1 3.3 33.3
467 1 3.3 36.7
471 2 6.7 43.3
489 1 3.3 46.7
491 1 3.3 50.0
492 2 6.7 56.7
494 1 3.3 60.0
503 1 3.3 63.3
514 1 3.3 66.7
520 1 3.3 70.0
525 1 3.3 73.3
527 1 3.3 76.7
528 1 3.3 80.0
533 1 3.3 83.3
534 1 3.3 86.7
545 1 3.3 90.0
548 1 3.3 93.3
549 1 3.3 97.6
573 1 3.3 100.0
MEAN MEDIAN MODE
485.80 491.50 441.00
PERCENTILE PERCENTILE PERCENTILE
25.00 50.00 75.00
VALUE VALUE VALUE
447.750 491.500 527.250
A frequency analysis showed the mean (485.80), median (491.50), and mode
(441.00) of this group of 30 leaders. Raw scoring of the SOI can result in scores
ranging from 85 to 595, with a top score of 595 indicating a very strong orientation
toward spirituality. The scores from this group ranged from a score of 377 to a score
of 573. The median point for the entire SOI scale of 85 to 595 was 297.50. Based on
this median point, all SOI scores of the thirty leaders fell in the upper half of the SOI
scale. This means that the group of thirty did have an inclination toward spirituality, as
In addition to the above SOI analysis, additional analysis was conducted using
the SOI results providing a greater depth and insight into the spiritual make-up of this
population group of thirty. The additional findings were gathered by splitting the
group of thirty leaders into two equal numbered groups of fifteen leaders each and
conducting comparisons of SOI component scores between the two groups. Those
leaders whose SOI total score were below the median point of 491.50 (on the scale of
377 595) comprised group one. Those leaders whose total SOI score was above
491.50 comprised group two. Individuals in group two were interviewed in phase two
of this study. Table 4.3 shows that both groups are not just equal in number but also
very similar in ratio of females to males, length of time in the position, number of staff,
and number of presidents versus all other positions.
Characteristics of Group One and Group Two
GROUP CHARACTERISTICS GROUP ONE (scoring below 491.50 on SOI) GROUP TWO (scoring above 491.50 on SOI)
Ratio of females and males females = 4, males = 11 females = 3, male = 12
Average length of time in position 8-9 years 10 years
Average number of staff 6-7 5-6
Number of presidents 6 4
All other positions 9 11
This information is important to note since the similarities show that the two
groups are fairly equal in all demographic aspects.
Table 4.4 provides a breakdown of the specific SOI component scores of each
of the two groups per all nine SOI components. The table also provides the means per
SOI component, per individual participant, total individual and group mean scores.
These scores are shown using a value of 1 7 which is based on the Likert scale of 1 -
7 used by the SOI.
Group one consisted of leaders whose scores fell below the median point of
491.50. Group two was comprised of those leaders who scores were above the median
point and in the upper 50% bracket of the total group of thirty. Group ones scores
ranged from 377 to 491 and group twos scores ranged from 492 to 573.
Individual and Group SOI Scores for Group One and Group Two
SUBJ. SCORE TD MP ML SL MV A 1 AT FS IND. MEAN
MB 377 2.31 4.90 5.89 4.60 4.50 5.14 6.30 4.20 2.90 4.526
SV 411 3.85 5.80 5.56 5.33 3.83 5.14 4.60 5.20 4.20 4.834
RF 413 4.31 4.90 5.67 4.60 5.17 5.00 5.50 4.20 4.60 4.883
DF 415 3.77 5.20 5.11 5.40 5.00 5.29 5.60 4.20 4.30 4.874
WL 437 4.00 5.60 5.56 5.85 5.33 5.29 6.00 4.60 5.10 5.258
JBB 441 4.85 5.20 5.56 5.33 5.50 5.00 5.30 5.00 5.00 5.193
FW 441 4.08 5.50 6.22 5.67 5.83 5.00 6.10 5.20 3.50 5.233
WS 450 5.23 5.60 5.78 5.47 4.33 5.29 5.30 5.20 5.00 5.244
PB 458 3.77 5.80 6.56 6.00 5.83 6.57 6.60 4.60 3.20 5.436
JB 465 5.08 6.00 5.67 6.33 5.00 5.57 6.60 4.60 4.10 5.438
KF 467 4.85 5.80 5.67 5.87 5.67 5.14 5.70 5.00 5.30 5.444 ,
MBR 471 6.23 5.60 4.78 5.47 5.83 5.57 5.40 5.60 4.90 5.486
PM 471 5.46 6.20 5.56 5.13 5.17 4.80 5.70 6.40 5.70 5.575
JH 489 5.85 5.90 6.11 5.33 6.17 5.71 5.60 5.20 6.00 5.763
GW 491 5.15 6.40 6.33 5.40 6.33 5.14 5.40 6.00 6.40 5.776
sw 492 5.15 6.30 6.00 5.80 5.83 5.71 6.50 5.20 5.50 5.788
GSF 492 6.00 6.00 6.00 6.00 5.33 6.00 5.40 6.00 5.40 5.792
EB 494 5.23 6.00 5.89 5.73 7.00 6.00 6.30 5.80 4.90 5.872
JJ 503 5.85 5.60 6.11 6.13 5.67 6.14 6.10 6.00 5.60 5.911
SSH 514 6.85 6.40 5.56 6.93 6.00 5.57 5.40 6.40 6.10 6.134
GB 520 6.23 6.67 6.67 5.67 6.50 6.14 5.80 5.60 6.10 6.153
ss 525 6.23 6.60 6.67 6.20 6.33 6.57 5.40 5.00 6.50 6.166
RMS 527 5.31 6.40 6.89 6.53 6.17 6.17 6.60 6.60 5.10 6.196
NH 528 6.46 6.70 6.44 6.60 6.33 6.00 6.10 5.80 5.60 6.225
MM 533 5.00 6.30 6.78 6.13 6.17 7.00 6.50 6.60 6.00 6.275
NB 534 5.92 6.70 6.22 6.20 6.33 6.43 6.70 6.00 6.00 6.277
JC 545 5.46' 7.00 7.00 6.53 7.00 5.00 6.90 5.80 6.80 6.387
RB 548 6.62 6.70 7.00 6.53 6.50 5.86 6.20 5.60 6.50 6.390
AL 549 6.31 6.50 6.22 6.87 6.17 6.29 6.60 7.00 6.00 6.440
TB 573 6.23 7.00 7.00 6.67 7.00 6.57 6.90 7.00 6.70 6.785
GRP 1 MEAN 4.58 5.62 5.73 5.50 5.29 5.31 5.71 5.01 4.68 5.27
GRP 2 MEAN 5.92 6.45 6.43 6.30 6.28 6.09 6.22 6.02 5.92 6.18
DIFF. -1.34 -.83 -.70 -.80 -.99 -.78 -.51 -1.01 -1.24 -.91
TOTAL MEAN 5.25 6.04 6.08 5.90 5.79 5.70 5.97 5.52 5.30 5.73
This table indicates a clear difference in overall mean scores between groups
one and two. This is due to the fact that group one scores are not as high overall on
the SOI scale as group twos scores. The mean for group one was 5.27 compared to
group twos mean score of 6.18. This is a -.91 difference, almost a full measured point
on a 1 7 Likert scale. The SOI scores per component for group one and group two
were compared from five different perspectives in order to illuminate any differences
that might exist between the two groups. Two-tailed T-tests with a t-DIST of 2.04,
and a alpha level of .05 and 2 df (Balsley, 1978, p. 501) were conducted to statistically
analyze the findings from the comparisons. Responses to each of the SOI components
were compared between:
1. Group one and group two
2. Female vs male leaders
3. Presidents vs other positions
4. Length of time in the position (greater than 10 years vs less than 10
5. Number of staff (greater than 3 and less than 3)
Table 4.5 shows the comparisons and associated T-values.
SOI Component Score Comparisons Between Group One and Group Two
SOI COMP. TD MP ML SL MV A I AT FS TOT. MEAN
GRP 1 (N=I5) 4.58 5.62 5.73 5.50 5.29 5.13 5.71 5.01 4.68 5.27
GRP 2 (N=15) 5.92 6.45 6.43 6.30 6.28 6.09 6.22 6.02 5.92 6.18
DIFF. -1.38 -0.83 -0.70 -0.80 -0.99 -0.96 -0.51 -1.01 -1.24 -0.91
T-VALUE -4.50 -5.50 -4.72 -4.14 -4.52 -4.78 -2.65 -4.46 -4.17
SIG. DIFF. Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
FEMALE (N=7) 5.08 6.02 6.00 5.85 5.60 5.84 5.81 5.37 4.77 5.60
MALE (N=23) 5.30 6.04 6.10 5.91 5.80 5.66 6.01 5.56 5.40 5.76
DIFF. -0.22 -0.02 -0.12 -0.06 -0.20 -0.18 -0.20 -0.19 -0.63 -0.16
T-VALUE -0.04 -0.91 -0.42 -0.23 -0.58 0.67 -0.80 -0.55 -1.61
SIG. DIFF. N N N N N N N N N
PRESID. (N=10) 5.32 5.81 5.87 5.78 5.61 5.61 5.84 5.52 5.19 5.61
OTHERS (N=20) 5.21 6.15 6.19 5.96 5.88 5.75 6.03 5.52 5.35 5.78
DIFF. 0.11 -0.34 -0.32 -0.18 -0.27 -0.14 -0.19 -0.00 -0.16 -0.17
T-VALUE 0.25 -1.57 -1.56 -0.75 -0.88 -0.57 -086 -0.00 -0.41
SIG. DIFF. N N N N N N N N N
< 10 YEARS (N=14) 4.99 5.88 6.02 5.90 5.63 S.73 6.00 5.43 4.94 5.61
>10 YEARS (N=16) 5.55 6.21 6.15 5.90 5.97 5.67 5.92 5.61 5.70 5.85
DIFF. -0.56 -0.33 -0.13 0.00 -0.34 0.06 0.08 -0.18 -0.76 -0.24
T-VALUE -1.49 -1.59 -0.61 -0.01 -1.21 0.27 0.35 -0.59 -2.17
SIG. DIFF. N N N N N N N N Y
< 3 STAFF (N=I 1) 5.33 6.23 6.31 6.03 6.02 5.62 6.00 5.47 5.43 5.83
>3 STAFF (N=19) 5.27 5.96 6.00 5.86 5.70 5.75 5.96 5.55 5.28 5.70
DIFF. 0.06 0.27 0.31 0.17 0.16 -0.13 0.04 -0.08 0.15 0.13
T-VALUE 0.14 1.22 1.44 0.77 1.14 -0.61 0.16 -0.25 0.38
SIG. DIFF. N N N N N N N N N
Two-tai! t-test t-DIST.=2.04 alpha level = .05
Overall, SOI component scores from group one and group two showed
statistically significant differences. Group one represented a range of 377 to 491 with a
mean score of 5.27. Group two represented a range of 492 to 573 with a mean score of
6.18. This equated to a difference of-.91. Differences in component scores appeared
to be uniform across the scale. T-values for seven of the eight SOI components ranged
from 4.15 to 4.78. Two of the components showed values outside of this range. The
component meaning and purpose in life (MP) had a t-value of 5.50 which indicated a
significant difference with a very high confidence level between group one and group
two at the .05 level. The component idealism (I) had a t-value of 2.65 which
indicated a lower difference between the groups but still significant. These two values
were on the extreme ends of the scale. Because of the differences between these two
scores in relation to the other seven, this researcher further investigated these two
components to determine what might have contributed to the differences.
Individual survey questions were analyzed to determine any significant
differences. There were ten questions for each of these two components. Please note
that not all of the components had ten questions. The number of questions differed for
each of the other seven components.
Table 4.6 shows the findings of the questions associated with meaning and
purpose in life, (MP). Table 4.7 provides findings associated with idealism (I).
Mean scores for each components questions are provided for group one and group
two. Only those questions that show a significantly high difference between the groups
have been provided verbatim in each of the tables.