Today’s leaders are facing complex business problems that require a moral compass and more than one person to solve. Bill Gates extols that organizations must innovate or die (Lee, 2013) and it is becoming widely accepted that diversity and inclusion are key factors in cultivating the innovative workplace (Kurschner & Schmidt, 2017). Although religion has been relegated to the margins of organizational leadership studies, a new era of globalization has ushered in opportunities for spirituality to become a conduit for self-actualization and inclusive leadership. Therefore, inclusive leadership and workplace spirituality are needed to address some of these pressing matters.

This study examines the phenomenon of inclusive leadership and its connection to self- actualization through the experience of workplace spirituality. In order to examine these two seemingly disparate concepts, a study collected 201 surveys online with staff and faculty from an elite faith-based institution of higher education. Results from this study showed that workplace spirituality does create a milieu for inclusive leadership, leading by example, servant leadership, autonomy, mission/values, integration of self, openness, critical thinking, authenticity, and connection. One significant finding that emerged is that diversity-without-inclusion cultivates fear and becomes toxic, while inclusion-without-diversity breeds homogeneity at the detriment of creativity. This first phase of the study revealed a void in diversity amongst the highest levels of leadership and a lack of gender and religious inclusion at all levels. A second phase of this study implemented semi-structured interviews with 7 administrative leaders at the institution to further explore and understand self-actualized leadership. Results concluded that administrative leaders report experiences of inclusion and feeling “safe, free and capable.” They described self- actualized leadership, including strategies for inclusive leadership and workplace spirituality which are shared in chapter five.

This research is grounded in Inclusive Leadership theory by Edwin P. Hollander (2009) and the characteristics of Inclusive Leadership that came from a Deloitte study of 1500+ corporate leaders around the globe (Bouke & Dillon, 2016). Inclusive Leadership theory is integrated with Abraham Maslow (1970) who described 15 characteristics of Enlightened Leadership. Findings from this study create a roadmap for schools and organizations that want to develop Self-Actualized Leadership programs, which comes from the integration of inclusive leadership, and workplace spirituality.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Religious institutions -- Employees; Religion in the workplace -- Case studies; Self-actualization (Psychology) -- Religious aspects; Servant leadership

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Margaret J. Weber