• An Exploration of Human Dignity as a Foundation for Spiritual Leadership

      Wond, Tracey; Phil, Henry; Kyle, John Wesley (University of DerbyCollege of Business, Law and Social Sciences, 2020-12-08)
      This research is situated at the nexus of human dignity and spiritual leadership theory. It critically explores human dignity, an expression of human value and worth, for its potential as the basis of an advancement to spiritual leadership, a contemporary organisational leadership theory. Following this critical exploration, the thesis proposes that human dignity is an implied element of spiritual leadership that, if made explicit, represents a valuable advancement to the theory. Based on the findings of the research, specific advancements to the theory are proposed that incorporate the acknowledgement of and respect for human dignity as spiritual leadership behaviours. In the research, these behaviours were seen to contribute positively to the desired outcome of spiritual leadership, namely an increase in the perception of well-being experienced by leaders and followers. The research offers a contribution to the field of organisational leadership by exploring the linkage between human dignity, the elements of spiritual leadership, and higher-order needs associated with well- being in the workplace, such as meaning-making, sense of purpose, and the sense of belonging. The research involved a qualitative field study of individual contributors, mid-level managers, and executives in a variety of organisations. Through semi-structured interviews, participants were invited to share their ideas and lived experiences regarding human dignity and the elements of spiritual leadership. The primary findings fall into three thematic categories, each of which is explored in detail in the thesis. The first theme is that participants perceived their dignity to be acknowledged and respected when leaders include them in decision-making processes. Inclusive decision-making is a leadership behaviour consistent with the ideals of spiritual leadership practice. Second, participants also reported that leadership behaviours that make them feel seen, known, and trusted, contribute to their sense of dignity as well as their sense of “mattering” in the workplace. Mattering and dignity are two related concepts that are, in turn, closely linked with the sense of calling and sense of membership. Finally, participants expressed that thoughts about human dignity are elements of the “inner life”, consisting of the values and attitudes that inform and motivate outward behaviour. These thematic findings are consistent with the expected outcomes of spiritual leadership and its emphasis on the inner life of the leader. Together, they form the basis for the human dignity advancements proposed to the theory.