Integrating Leadership Development with Ignatian Spirituality: A Model for Designing a Spiritual Leader Development Practice



Date of this version


Document Type



spiritual leadership, leader development, practices, discernment, vocation, religion at work, Ignatius


Prominent scholars note that current approaches to leader development in business are insufficient in at least three ways, and call for approaches that teach leaders to process and reflect, take personal ownership, and develop their capacities for both proficient and morally centered leadership. This paper explores three related research questions: Can we use evidence from management research to build a process-based model of leader self-development? Does the spiritual leadership literature offer implications for integrating moral development into such a model? Can spiritual development processes from a long-standing tradition be integrated, to further bring spiritual and moral development into leader development? Based on the leader and leadership development, spiritual leadership, and Ignatian literatures, one approach to building a spiritual leader development practice is presented. Using this model, business leaders are guided in forming leader development practices based on six categories of interdependent developmental activities: planning with discernment, experiences based on vocation, reflection including spiritual notes, assessment including examining present faults, education including on the lives of moral and effective leaders, and relationships including spiritual direction. This approach is differentiated from other approaches to leader development and to spiritual leadership. The role of the specific spiritual practices used here versus other traditions and the interplay of religion and spirituality in leader development are discussed, along with limitations of this approach and suggestions for further research.

Published in

Journal of Business Ethics

Citation/Other Information

145(4), 811-829

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.