Strategy in His Image: Xavier University of Louisiana Professors Publish Book on Workplace Spirituality and Leadership

Xavier University of Louisiana

For nearly one hundred years, the nation’s only Historically Black and Catholic institution of higher education, Xavier University of Louisiana, has boasted excellent and dedicated faculty committed to the university’s mission of promoting a more just and humane society by educating the next generation of leaders.

Two Xavier professors recently collaborated to write a book on spirituality and leadership in the workplace from a Christian perspective, offering a model navigating the context of business and leadership through a faith-inspired lens, reinforcing Xavier’s great legacy and foundation of faith. Dr. Joe Ricks and Dr. Richard Peters of Xavier’s Division of Business were proud to publish their book, “Strategy in His Image: Supporting and Sustaining Organizational Strategy from a Christian Perspective.”

In their publication, they address the critical need to reconcile workplace spirituality with strategic thinking and business operations because of religious identity’s significance throughout the United States. As Xavier is rooted in religious faith, Dr. Ricks and Dr. Peters’ achievements continue to support the vision of the university’s foundresses, St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.

The research interests of Dr. Ricks and Dr. Peters naturally gelled together, having conducted work on corporate social responsibility and philanthropy. Both practicing Christians, they were inspired to create their model after reading an article discussing spirituality in the workplace. After recognizing they could develop their concept further, they created a journal article that would later lay the foundation to expand into a book.

“We do a deep dive into the literature of both strategy and theology,” said Dr. Ricks. “This book was written for practicing organizational leaders who identify as Christian, and we use our academic training to write what executives and decision makers within organizations would need.”

“I came from a strategic business lens, and Dr. Ricks has more theological expertise, and you see a lot of that exploration in the book,” said Dr. Peters. “This was an evolution and is something we’re both passionate about.”

Their book model emphasizes four principles: subsidiarity with solidarity, stewardship, support and empowerment, and synergy. These principles discuss decision-making, promoting sustainability and social well-being, implementation, and principles where Christians and non-Christians are supported and empowered for individual growth and organizational success. A five-year culmination of work, the book’s digital release has already garnered interest, with a postgraduate student reaching out to the professors to share their excitement to read and review the book.

“People who are not only Christians but Christian leaders are looking for something like this that is tied to their value system but can most importantly be used in their workplace,” said Dr. Peters.

Dr. Peters and Dr. Ricks’ collaborative book development also supports their work at Xavier and the university’s mission.

“Our book talks about strategy and leadership development from a Christian perspective. What could be more Xavier? It connects our research squarely with the university’s mission,” said Dr. Ricks.

The professors have already begun discussing their next project in this space and the opportunities to conduct more work connected to the strategic leadership and spirituality field. They are hopeful business leaders and executives will implement the book’s model and that it will guide thought and decision-making processes.

As faith and leadership are vital to Xavier, Dr. Ricks and Dr. Peters’ work epitomizes the university’s mission and values.

“There’s always this discussion about being your authentic self, yet people of faith often hide that portion of themselves at work. The hope is that Christian leaders can find a way to bring that authentic self to their careers, organizations, leadership, and do it in a way that respects diversity,” said Dr. Ricks.

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