Spirituality in the 21st Century Workplace – Nu Leadership Series

“In the past a leader was a boss. Today’s leaders must be partners with their people… they no longer can lead solely based on positional power.”
Ken Blanchard

Organizations must understand what spirituality means in the workplace for employees. After the September 11th terrorist attacks, it was obvious that businesses and public organizations were vulnerable. People lost jobs and were forced to change their lifestyles. Yet the aftermath of such tragedies has produced a spiritual void in America’s workplace.

What is the catalysis for creating this new cultural shift in America’s workplaces? Some may blame the impersonal outcome of the Industrial Age. Essentially, 9/11 exposed this emerging trend of workers who are seeking meaning in the workplace. However, today’s managers are not ready for the workforce windfall. Therefore, understanding this emerging value is critical to organizational leaders.

Today’s workers consider spiritual fulfillment a valuable commodity in their work environments. Many organizations would prefer to stay away from religious connotations. However, many workers desire a more meaningful existence, at work and home. Ashar and Lane-Maher, authors of Success and Spirituality in the New Business Paradigm, maintain that the workforce has an aspiration for something more than employment.

This desire has been commonly called spirituality. However, critics argue that spirituality in the workplace could possibly open businesses to litigation for discrimination. Clearly, workplace spirituality runs counter to “good old” capitalism. Obviously, these critics miss the intent of this spiritual movement. This concept is not about organized religion but recognizing the reality that people want to meet their inner desires by having meaningful work. This phenomenon will continue to grow in organizations as managers neglect to meet employees’ spiritual needs.


Ashar, H. & Lane-Maher, M. (2004). Success and spirituality in the new business paradigm. Journal of Management Inquiry, 13(3), 249-260.

Gibson, J., Ivancevich, J., Donnelly, J., & Konopaske, R. (2006). Organizations: Behavior, Structure, Processes. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Youth With A Mission (2002). Spiritual Formation in the Workplace: God’s Spirit at Work. Received on September 2, 2006, from http:www.scruples.org/web/articles/Spiritual%20Formation%20at%20Work.htm

© 2006 by Daryl D. Green