Re-embodying Leadership Through a Re-examination of the Sacred
Young, Alison Margaret Grieg
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Preparation of work for publication
The last couple of decades have witnessed an exponential increase of interest in religion and spirituality in the academic disciplines of leadership and organization. Some scholars argue that this interest is prone to neglect analysis of Western religion’s historical origins and therefore of what may be its repressed influences on leadership and organizational practices. Others, that this revived focus on the sacred may be limited by an over-reliance on too narrow a theology rooted within a singular (Judeo-Christian) cosmology. I seek to both speak to and expand the concerns of such previous research. I do this by introducing ecofeminism as a theoretical framework for a critical analysis of the macro level of what has already been framed as the repressed influence of mainstream religious orthodoxy within the field of leadership studies. Building upon the perspectives provided by ecofeminism and feminist spirituality I extend the aforementioned concerns by suggesting that some of the ethics within the Judeo-Christian cosmology itself bear some relationship to and responsibility in crises relating to environmental sustainability and social justice. I explore a number of related themes, arguing in particular that the demotion of nature and partnership with what might be described as the divine feminine within Western culture are not only linked but also generate profound dysfunction, in both leadership and organization. In the second section I present empirical data at a micro level, collected within a contemporary spiritual community where both nature and the divine feminine play central roles in its cosmology. The School of Movement Medicine functions as a financially successful business organization dedicated to the encouragement of spiritual fulfillment, ecological sustainability and social justice. The practices it teaches are specifically designed to assist those who engage with them to take responsibility for responding to the individual, societal and global challenges that lie before us - aiming, in other words to make leaders out of members. My hope is that these explorations may answer some of the calls of previous work to broaden representation within the leadership and spirituality field, as well as enriching its theory and practice with greater potential to generate increased levels of social justice, environmental sustainability and human fulfillment.
PhD in Leadership Studies