Spiritual Engagement and Positive Leadership: The Promise of Identity-Focused Leader Development

  • Rick RoofEmail author
  • Mihai C. Bocarnea
  • Bruce E. Winston
Reference work entry


This chapter considers the potential that positive leadership offers for addressing the challenges of leading in complex organizations and explores the practical applications of developing leaders through identity-focused approaches. The role of self-awareness and spiritual engagement are discussed as powerful, identity-shaping, and resilience-strengthening forces. The importance of authenticity, the relationship of identity to authenticity, self-awareness, leadership development disappointments, and spiritual engagement as a development force are examined in a quest for more effective approaches to shaping the leader’s inner self. The importance of a resilient identity that can stand against the pressures of culture and complexity is discussed. Literature from identity, spiritual engagement, authentic leadership, and related social sciences provide support in arguing that the complex forces that influence the leader and inhibit leading authentically can best be understand as outflows of identity, so intentionally addressing identity can provide the foundation for effective leadership. The importance of identity development in providing socially desirable leadership, humility, wisdom, and clarity is discussed. Finally, an example from research is provided and a brief proposal of an identity-grounded, positive leadership-based development program is presented. Methods for measuring the impact on leaders of such an identity-based development program are offered.


Identity Authentic leadership Spiritual engagement Spiritual disciplines Self-awareness Positive leadership 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rick Roof
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mihai C. Bocarnea
    • 1
  • Bruce E. Winston
    • 1
  1. 1.Regent UniversityVirginia BeachUSA

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