The United Nations has an ambitious program called “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals”, to be reached by 2030. Seven of them are directly related to good corporate management and leadership. So, it is essential to improve the state of the art of management.

Most corporations use one strategy for management such as directors and managers and another strategy for the workforce. For the latter, motivational strategies promote positive attitude to better serve their company. At the same time, the management sector has at its disposal powerful tools to improve handling their own emotions and goals. To address emotions has been fashionable since Goleman’s book “Emotional Intelligence”. But emotion-based inspiration is short-lived. If management relied on Human Values and spirituality, it would be far more sustainable. You can find hundreds of books on spiritual management. Yet, unfortunately, mainstream businesses do not support this approach. More acceptable is mindfulness, a variety of meditation techniques that promote wellbeing. However, we can move beyond this by bringing spirituality to the workplace.

The Institute of Sathya Sai Education of South Europe, (ISSE SE) is well aware that Human Values are not only a “must” in the field of education, but also concern all segments of society, including companies, enterprises, and businesses. In addition to representing a new focus for forming organizations with innovative perspectives, they can promote a change of paradigm towards a society centred on people, and not on profit, in search of a common good and global well-being. This noble goal is possible when you have the right motivation and the determination to pursue it. Transparency, ethics, rigor, rationality, creativity, solidarity, equity, and sustainability are values that many enterprises put in the forefront today. However, it is mainly our attitude that will move us toward the goal we aspire to achieve, the quality of relationships we yearn for, and the world we hope and pray for. The change begins from within.

To foster this inner change of perspective, and bring about new company plans, models, standards, and a holistic leadership, the ISSE SE held two Conferences respectively in 2014 and 2016, dedicated to “Managing Change and Growth through Human Values & Spiritual leadership” in Varallo Pombia, Divignano (Novara, Italy). The purpose of the meetings, attended by around 100 people, including 70 managers from 14 European countries and South Africa, was to raise awareness of the need for value-based management, discuss principles, practices, and success cases on “Values Leadership”, and share experiences on the feasibility and implementation of ‘spiritual management’. Discussions revolved around questions such as:

  • how can we foster human growth and development to overcome inequality and poverty?
  • how can local and world leaders cultivate their character, so that the working place confers happiness on employees, and business supports environmental sustainability?
  • how can we move from an “information-oriented society to a society geared toward transformation?
  • how can we progress from competition to cooperation, from self-centeredness to selfless service, from high-speed and high profit managerial patterns to corporate responsibility?

The two Conferences emphasized how aligning company purpose, mission statements and Human Values can be inherently successful. All participants strongly concurred that value-oriented leadership is unquestionably of paramount importance in today’s global society, but feasible only if there is an honest and integral connection with Human Values. A huge societal change is first needed for the individual, with far-reaching implications. The selfish approach of business leaders and management must be replaced by a new process, a spiritual process aimed at serving society.

The lofty goal of spiritual-guided leadership thus broadens our vision to perceive “business” as a means for spiritual upliftment. Interviews with successful leaders, shared during the conferences, showed that there are many sincere and accomplished leaders who support a spiritual outlook, and represent examples of how spirituality and rationality can go hand in hand.

Jordi Griera, Spain
Suzanne Palermo, Switzerland