Volume 1: 2002 Abstract 2

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

Volume 1: 2002

Spirituality, progress, meaning and values: Implications for leadership and management

Richard Eckersley

Australian National University


This paper weaves a large tapestry on the themes of spirituality, meaning, values, progress and well-being. It reveals a coherent picture, with an internally consistent message. However, given the space constraints, the tapestry won’t be richly detailed. The key points are: scenarios of global futures are closely tied to issues of spirituality and meaning in life; crucial to these matters are how we see and use religion and science and technology, and the choice we make between new ‘transformational’ religions and old fundamentalist ones; this is part of a broader challenge to find appropriate sources of meaning in late modern or postmodern societies; this challenge includes redefining progress which, as currently pursued, is inequitable, unsustainable and, contrary to its core objective, is not making life better or people happier – at least in countries like Australia, that are already rich; values are central to the tasks of redefining progress and searching for meaning; they are neither absolute nor totally relative; both religion and science can provide moral guidance, but the lessons are human interpretations, drawn from experience, not laws of God or of Nature; and leadership and management, perhaps especially in the corporate sector, are still a long way from addressing adequately the social implications of these matters – although there are encouraging signs that mindsets are changing.