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Spirituality In The Corporate Work Arena

on 1999/11/28 19:00:00 ( 1850 reads )


UNITED STATES, July 2010: Across the country, major-league executives are meeting for prayer breakfasts and spiritual conferences.

If America's chief executives had tried any of this 10 years ago, they probably would have inspired ridicule and maybe even ostracism. But today, a spiritual revival is sweeping across Corporate America as executives of all stripes are mixing mysticism into their management, importing into office corridors the lessons usually doled out in churches, temples, and mosques. Gone is the old taboo against talking about God at work. In its place is a new spirituality, evident in the prayer groups at Deloitte & Touche and the Talmud studies at New York law firms such as Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays & Haroller.

In Minneapolis, 150 business chiefs lunch monthly at a private, ivy-draped club to hear chief executives such as Medtronic Inc.'s William George and Carlson Co.'s Marilyn Carlson Nelson draw business solutions from the Bible. In Silicon Valley, a group of high-powered, high-tech Hindus--including Suhas Patil, founder of Cirrus Logic (CRUS), Desh Deshpande, founder of Cascade Communications, and Krishan Kalra, founder of BioGenex--are part of a movement to connect technology to spirituality. In Boston, heavy hitters such as retired Raytheon Chairman and CEO Thomas L. Phillips meet at an invitation-only prayer breakfast called First Tuesday, an ecumenical affair long shrouded in secrecy. More publicly, Aetna International (AET) Chairman Michael A. Stephen has extolled the benefits of meditation and talked with Aetna employees about using spirituality in their careers.

Spiritual events and seminares are happening at executive enclaves. For the past six years, 300 Xerox Corp. (XRX) employees--from senior managers to clerks--have participated in "vision quests" as part of the struggling copier company's $400 million project to revolutionize product development. Alone for 24 hours with nothing more than sleeping bags and water jugs in New Mexico's desert or New York's Catskill Mountains, the workers have communed with nature, seeking inspiration and guidance about building Xerox' first digital copier-fax-printer.

For Kris Kalra, chief executive of BioGenex, it's the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, that offers the best lessons for steering a business out of trouble. He dropped out of corporate life for three months, studying the Bhagavad Gita for eight hours a day. After he returned to work, he started listening to other people's ideas and slowly let go of his micromanaging ways.

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