Spiritual Leadership: How to Become a Great Spiritual Leader
by Leonard Doohan
Spokane, WA: Leonard Doohan, 2014
Reviewed by Greg Richardson
Spiritual Leadership describes steps in developing spiritual leadership. It is a helpful resource for people working on becoming spiritual leaders and a tool that can be applied to other paths of spiritual growth and formation. Dr. Leonard Doohan is a professor emeritus at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, USA, where he taught religious studies and was the dean of the graduate school. He has written twenty-four books, several of which focus on spiritual leadership. He writes from a Christian academic perspective.
Doohan’s vision of spiritual leadership is based on a leader recognizing and appreciating his or her own core values, then putting those values into practice. “Spirituality refers to a person’s efforts to become the best he or she is capable of being, to become his or her authentic self” (7).
Doohan brings an organized, analytical approach to his writing. He sets out ten significant steps in the process of understanding spiritual leadership and ten suggestions within each of those steps. These hundred suggestions fill the book with accessible, clear ways to strengthen and build spiritual leadership. For example, some of the steps include “Set a New Direction for Your Leadership,” “Implement Your Call in a Vision,” “Establish Supports for Your Spiritual Leadership,” and “Evaluate Your Leadership.”
The steps are organized in a chronological path and could be followed as exercises. The structure of the suggestions, though, is flexible. The suggestions could be used independently of the framework of the steps. “The leader who supports his or her decisions with contemplation can analyze issues more immediately and with greater clarity, can respond to demands more directly, and can appreciate people’s interactions more perceptively” (105).
The suggestions under each step are full of valuable insight. I found step seven, “Establishing Supports for Your Spiritual Leadership,” most helpful. The suggestions are particularly practical, and they open doors to deep truth. Spiritual Leadership is a powerful resource for people who are in leadership positions or who are seeking leadership coaching or spiritual direction. The book is directly beneficial as it applies to developing spiritual leadership, and it includes lessons that go beyond leadership.
Greg Richardson is a spiritual director and leadership coach in Pasadena, California, USA. He is also a lay oblate with New Camaldoli Monastery near Big Sur, California.