Spirituality in Educational Leadership (The Soul of Educational Leadership Series)

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Landscape as spiritual classic: A reading from Paekakariki. Smith Eds. Auckland: Accent. Liddy, S.

Leading With Soul and Spirit

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EDITORIAL: Research and Teaching on Spirituality and Spiritual Leadership in Management

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Evoking the Spirit in Public Education • Center for Courage & RenewalCenter for Courage & Renewal

If we are wise, we will reach into our hearts for hope and understanding. We will pray for those who have been lost, for ourselves and for children who embody our dreams of human possibility.

Who Am I: Advaita Vedanta & Neo Advaita Approaches to Self-Inquiry & Ego Dissolution ~ Shunyamurti

As we deepen our own reservoirs of faith, we will look for ways to help others do the same. It is a leadership challenge as forbidding as any educators will ever face. How do we meet such a challenge? It helps to start by asking what extraordinary leadership looks like. Many pathways point to effective leadership. But some qualities are consistent across effective leaders.

We address five below. Allen Kennedy, co-author with Terry Deal of Corporate Culture , once said that the basic problem of leadership is getting the whole herd moving roughly west. That suggests two problems.

Center for Courage & Renewal

Getting the herd moving is often very hard. But the bigger challenge is figuring out which way is west—where you and your system should be going. Great leaders have an internal compass and know where west is. They always have it in mind and use every activity and event as an opportunity to demonstrate the desired direction. These are leaders with a vision. Others get lost in complexity, tossed about on a chaotic sea of swirling problems and pressures.

They behave more like weather vanes than compasses—switching direction depending on the prevailing winds. A second quality of outstanding leaders is that they care deeply about their work and making a difference. This should be easy for educators—what work has greater intrinsic value or contributes more to children and society? But too many in leadership positions are committed to little more than moving paper and avoiding trouble. Their souls shrivel and their leadership falters. They simply put in time until retirement finally rolls around.

Fortunately, there are many other examples of veteran school leaders who have kept the flame alive.

Can We Come Together to Address Soul in Schools?

They genuinely love their work. Passion is hard to fake. Either way, those feelings are contagious. Veteran leaders have lots of experience. Wise leaders have learned from their experience, from both success and failure. Their hard-earned wisdom enables them to recognize and appreciate the complexities they face.

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They are able to see pattern and order where others are overwhelmed by confusion. Albert Einstein once said the simplicity on this side of complexity is worthless, but the simplicity on the other side is almost priceless. Wisdom helps you navigate your way to the other side. Leadership inevitably places bets on the future, making decisions in the face of incomplete information and conflicting pressures. You can tell when the faint at heart are running scared. They fudge, hedge, delay and duck while problems pile up.

Courage lets you move ahead anyway.

Warren Buffett once said the three most important qualities in a manager are integrity, intelligence and energy. But without the first, he cautioned, the other two will kill you. Integrity is at the heart of qualities like honesty, depth and a moral compass that inspire trust and loyalty. If such qualities are keys to inspired leadership, where do they come from? Are they inborn? Learned from experience? The more we study gifted leaders, the more we are convinced that leadership qualities are ultimately rooted in faith and soul.

It is a deep-seated sense about who you are, what you value and what you are here to do. This spiritual core provides leaders firm ground on which to stand and a clear voice with which to speak. Without this solid center, leaders lose their bearings or sound an uncertain trumpet that rallies no one. Even worse, they become soulless game players who care little about interests other than their own. The quest for soul requires reclaiming and rekindling your spiritual center.

It involves building a faith that sustains you when the going gets tough. What is your life about and what are you here to do? What makes life worth living and work worth doing? If you have a faith or a personal philosophy that answers these questions, cherish it and nourish it. If not, keep looking until you find one that works. The search for soul and spirit always has been central to the human experience, despite a modern tendency to shunt it aside. More and more people are realizing that solipsistic faiths like careerism or consumerism can never provide adequate spiritual anchors.