By Alan Olsen
For many people, even mentioning religion, or a religious topic in the workplace can be taboo. Often, people are very sensitive about religious topics so most people choose to be quiet about the subject, no matter what the business situation might be. Even some of the most devout and religious people might never say or do anything that would imply they were pushing their religious beliefs. This is especially true with many people in leadership positions. After all, those who lead companies must be very careful that they don’t cross any boundaries of what is considered ethical and appropriate in the workplace. However, is it possible that one can draw upon his or her spirituality and still hold a position of business leadership?
Two Aspects of Spirituality
I asked this question to Prasad Kaipa, who is a successful, author, trainer and corporate consultant. We discussed spirituality and religion in the workplace and when I specifically asked him if it was possible to introduce spiritual aspects into business leadership Prasad ensured me that it was. “I do believe the spiritual aspect is always part of business leadership,” he said. Prasad pointed out that we are often uncomfortable talking about it because we don’t want business and religion to mix, just like we don’t usually mix business and politics or religion and politics. However, Prasad also explained that there are two separate elements to spirituality. He said one aspect “is how you practice your values, your virtues and your integrity. Your ethics are part of your spiritual self.”
Business and Spirituality Can Mix
The other side of one’s spirituality consists of his or her rituals and religious practices that may, or may not be appropriate in the workplace. That’s because people come from all walks of life and from many different religious traditions. Some people might not like the rituals or practices someone else is doing or they might not understand them. However, Prasad said, “If we can divide up religion into spirituality and religious practices, I do believe spirituality has a significant role in business, because that’s the source of our passion, of our calling and of our purpose.” This is especially important if “we want more innovation, more employee engagement and more loyalty. We need to attend to this aspect of spirituality.”
Finding the Proper Balance
Spirituality in business leadership might not be for everyone, but at the same time, just because you are in a position of leadership that does not preclude you from implementing your spirituality in your work. It’s just a matter of separating your spirituality from your religious practices and finding the proper balance.