Book Review

The Spiritual Dimension of Leadership

by Paul D. Houston and Stephen L. Sokolow, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, Calif., 2006, 176 pp., $32.95 softcover

Superintendents make tough decisions. We attempt to balance budgets, hire the right people and negotiate contracts. However, sometimes we need to look beyond our daily tasks to those principles that inform our leadership. Paul Houston and Stephen Sokolow write about those spiritual principles that serve as bedrock for our work.

The Spiritual Principles of Leadership: 8 Key Principles to Leading More Effectively is an outgrowth of conversations between Houston, AASA executive director, and Sokolow, executive director of the Center for Empowered Leadership.

Each chapter is based on one of the spiritual principles: intention, attention, unique gifts and talents, gratitude, unique life lessons, holistic perspective, openness and trust. They define each principle and explain how it applies to educational leaders.

In the chapter on intention, Houston and Sokolow describe how school administrators support intention through prayer and meditation. Even the religious among us are struck with how odd it seems to make school district objectives matters of prayer, but doing so is a powerful reminder of how important it is to lead schools in the interest of children.

One thing that makes this book personal and useful is that you feel as though you are participating in a conversation with the authors. They are experienced leaders who have given a lot of attention to spiritual, religious and philosophical literature and to discussing our work in light of the understandings they have gleaned from that literature. The book’s structure leads to self-reflection and discussion with colleagues. It is accessible and applicable.

The principles are all rather simple and we probably already know them, but the reminders are needed.

Reviewed by Loren D. Thomas, director, Monteverde Friends Schools, Monteverde, Puntarenas, Costa Rica