Spiritual Wellness and Leadership in the Workplace

Jul 12, 2022 | Spiritual Health

Our philosophy on executive coaching at inclineHR is an integrated, holistic one. We evaluate the outcomes of major decisions in four areas of life –financial health, mental health, physical health, and spiritual health – because nothing happens in a vacuum. All four legs of the stool must be firmly set on the ground with their weight evenly distributed. Otherwise, your life would, metaphorically, topple over.

Every truly successful person I’ve met or read about recognizes their need (and proactively works) to attain a place of spiritual wellness or centeredness. Without this mindfulness, our accomplishments in life tend to ring hollow. An unquieted spirit can drive an individual to be out of balance, pursuing elusive satisfaction through overachievement on one hand or avoidance on the other. Both extremes, employee burnout and absenteeism, can be improved by encouraging people to “bring their whole selves to work,” especially their spirituality.

Most people consider spiritual thoughts too personal to share, and so we tend to treat spiritual matters as if they were taboo. Perhaps we are fearful of confusing spirituality with tenets of religion, thereby becoming a lightning rod for counterarguments. Try as we may in public policy to embrace or shun any particular religion or belief system – Google says there are 4200 of them across the globe – we will never be separated from our spiritual selves as individuals.

It is our spiritual selves that mark the essence of who we are. Human spirituality is filled with the lexicon of what we believe about ourselves. Spiritual health is intrinsic to personhood, perhaps more so than mental, physical, and financial health.

Pursuit of spiritual wholeness, when practically applied, defines our character and guides our behavior. Abe Lincoln once quoted an old man named Glenn, whom he’d heard speak during a church meeting in Indiana, “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.”  Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life by William Herndon and Jesse William Weik

Lincoln paints a picture of spirituality that is comprised of individual choice nuanced by a responsibility to something greater than personal liberty; community. Who else but our community would witness our words and deeds and evaluate them as being “good” or “bad?”

Why would it matter?

Try carrying the moniker of the “bad” co-worker on your team. It threatens your spirit in a way that does not stop at 5:00. It dogs you on the way home, harasses you silently in the presence of your family, and greets you with a beleaguered feeling the next morning before re-entering the workplace. Some people are dubbed “bad” unjustly. Prejudice, personal vendettas, and office dysfunctions should not be permitted to continue. But, as much as is under your control, a “bad” label must never be earned by your attitude, language, or actions.

Employees with an out of balance spirit sometimes face moral dilemmas in the workplace. I used to manage a call center where morale was a challenge. I almost never had to audit our payroll calculations. The frontline workers would alert me every time they were underpaid by just a few cents. At the same time, if an employee was accidentally overpaid by hundreds, crickets. I don’t know about you, but even if I thought I was getting away with it, my conscience would still tell me I’m a “bad” employee by accepting the overpayment…particularly if the discrepancy was caused by my actions.

My personal experience tells me that mindfulness and awareness of my spiritual health can be a feedback loop. “When I do bad I feel bad.” Every well-adjusted adult espouses a moral code of some sort. We know immediately when we’ve violated or upheld our personal standard of ethics. When we’re aware that we’re in the wrong, I believe we should make amends expediently to clear the pollution we introduced into our psyches. “When I do good I feel good.” I find spiritually healthy co-workers are more resilient and prone to act in ways that benefit their team, brand, or customer.

Good spiritual health enhances an individual’s influence and leadership by tempering passions when disagreements arise in the workplace. Spirit carries an internal validation that wards off feelings of being threatened when external affirmations do not come. Certain disagreements can be fruitful when the dialogue remains focused on finding the best way to resolve an issue.

Two co-workers who are spiritually healthy will debate without devolving into personal attacks and emerge on the backside with a deeper bond because they collaborated on a solution.

Re-read that sentence.

If that scenario sounds too implausible for your current employment situation, I have a challenge for you.

Be a hero.

Much ado is made about culture, and your company culture is shaped by the overall spiritual health of you and those around you. You are free to set the tone for your team regardless the size of the group, regardless of your title.

Be a leader.

If your spirit is dissatisfied with de rigueur office politics, change from within. Start your own revolution. Someone must be the catalyst.

The same spirit that inspires you to dream of a better future will be the force that sustains you in the journey to pursue it. Spiritual health enlarges you. It beckons you to tap into something bigger than yourself in pursuit of excellence. And when resistance to change arises, your spiritual health will equip you to deal graciously with doubters until they get on board.


Building Exceptional Leaders