Imagery of Regent people and campus

Doctoral Project Abstract

The Spiritual Effect: Fusing Spirituality with Organizational Design

Karen A. Rutherford-Coulson
Regent University

Henry Ford once asked, "Why is it that I always get the whole person when all I really want is a pair of hands?" Unfortunately, this leadership attitude once dominated the hierarchical structures of the past. Usually within these structures, decision-making and thinking filtered top-down. The leader was isolated from others and had no connection or relationship with lower level employees. For this reason, leaders did not always notice the human and spiritual needs of their followers. However, today's worker is no longer willing to work in such an environment. Instead, people are in search of work that satisfies their dreams and provides a sense of wholeness. This shift toward a more meaningful and spiritual work environment has affected not only the structure and design of work, but also the quality of life throughout the workplace.

Yet, simply changing the structure of an organization is not enough. It must begin with a change in mindset and a practice of guidance that weaves both leadership and spirit together. It requires a re-examination of the organization's values, beliefs, and reason for being. Spirituality must reflect in the values and behaviors of both leader and follower, as well as polices, and practices of the organization. It must be a way of being, the foundation of an organization's culture. This culture must build on reciprocal relationships that promote trust, commitment, and a sense of community. In these relationships, partners support and encourage the personal and professional development of each other through the exchange of honest feedback.

The Spiritual Effect is an approach that encourages the connection between work and spiritual life. It supports a community that unites in a vision and purpose that goes beyond making money. It encompasses the whole organization and supports the claim that spiritual leaders who encourage individual and organizational spirituality affect every facet of the organization. Emphasized at the individual level, is the development of self-knowledge, which leads to an increase in creativity and innovation, a better understanding of others, and more ethical behaviors. At the group level, The Spiritual Effect suggests the establishment of common values and goals that unite members and give them a sense of purpose. Spiritual organizations share resources to promote collaboration and a feeling of interconnectedness. At the organizational level, members experience a sense of ownership through the alignment of personal values and the organization's mission and purpose. It suggests that an individual's purpose is greater than one's self and therefore, contributes to the greater good of all.

For more information regarding this project please contact glepublications@regent.edu