This Labor Day, Celebrate 'Ordinary Saints' at the Workplace: Leaders and Staff Who Live Their Values at Work

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Wisdom, compassion, respect, and celebration are challenging values to put into practice in today's fast-moving business world. But this Labor Day, why not honor those who do precisely that, suggests theologian Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., author of the new book, Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations, to be published in September by Seabury Books.

moving business world. But this Labor Day, why not honor those who do precisely that, suggests theologian Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., author of the new book, Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations, to be published in September by Seabury Books.

Soul at Work profiles soulful organizations ranging from Southwest Airlines to Mercy Medical Center, a hospital in Mason City, Iowa, to hinge and clutch manufacturer Reell Precision Manufacturing of St. Paul, Minnesota, to Greyston Bakery, a bakery in Yonkers, NY which hires unemployable people to make top-of-the-line desserts. In a wide variety of industries, these businesses stand as shining examples of their leaders' commitment to doing the right thing, rather than taking the popular or money-driven course of action. "When yearnings for personal development are given space at work, leaders make better decisions and the office becomes a better place to work for everyone in the organization," says Dr. Benefiel, who teaches at both the Milltown Institute in Dublin, Ireland and at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts.

The soul-friendly workplaces created by "ordinary saints" that Benefiel identifies in the book do the following:

  •     institutionalize spiritual practices at work, such as nature walks, prayer, moments of silence and a process for corporate discernment
  •     recognize the needs of the soul in their official company documents
  •     make room for spiritual transformation in the midst of the nitty-gritty of daily business life
  •     pay as much attention to the quality of personal relationships at work as to traditional business results
  •     avoid quick decision making in favor of reflection and consensus building

"There's no business need to check spirituality and values at the door, either for an executive or an employee," notes Dr. Benefiel. "At the same time, expressing one's values at work becomes easier when the organization as a whole creates the practices to encourage that."

Soul at Work: Spiritual Leadership in Organizations, by Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., ISBN 1-59627-013-6 is published by Seabury Books and is available for $20 at bookstores and online at http://www.ExecutiveSoul.com

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