Volume 4: 2010 Abstract 9

Journal of Spirituality, Leadership and Management

Volume 4: 2010

Religious belief, spirituality and coaching for leadership development in our emergent world

Ray Elliott

Victoria University, Melbourne

ABSTRACT: pp. 86-104.

The prevalence of religious belief systems and their impact in our global world cannot be ignored in leadership development by leaders and their coaches. This paper focuses on their role in the reflective space for developing leadership. What is missing is a rationale for this engagement in contexts characterised by secular pluralism. The debates about appropriate education concerning religions in secular, pluralist, multicultural societies have clearly shown that there is no such thing as value-free or neutral education; the role of the teacher and indeed of the curriculum is to facilitate a deep engagement in personal awareness and integration on the one hand, and the capacity to engage with diverse and complex meaning, social and organisational systems on the other hand. Drawing on these rich educational methodologies and knowledge domains, a conceptual framework for coaching for leadership development is described which incorporates diverse religious belief systems, and how these may be appropriately incorporated in the coaching reflective space. This framework is then illustrated by reference to the central belief of the Christian tradition when personally entertained by the coach, namely the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. A description is provided of how such coach beliefs likely express themselves in, and indeed shape, the reflective space between coach and coachee in professional practice. Observations are made about linkages between such religious beliefs, the nature of authority, and theories of leadership. Through this extended theory of coaching, researchers and coaches are challenged to engage in systematic critical reviews of the world views of the coach and how these might manifest themselves in their coaching, and coaching for leadership development in particular. It is necessary for the leadership coach in our emergent global world to acknowledge their own spirituality, beliefs and world views – whether they be labelled ‘religious’ or not.

Key words: Leadership, coaching, religion, spirituality, frameworks