University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Research Protocols

The research is primarily focused on executives, in any type of work organization, whose character is grounded in a consciously-held spiritual view of life and who intends to lead from that spiritual basis.

Depending on their personality traits and leadership style, it may be a private matter or it may be expressed openly. They may also have varying degrees of being able to articulate their spiritual view of life.

As executives, they might be in positions such as Chairman, Board Member, CEO, COO, Vice President, General Manager, or Director. As spiritual-based leaders, they may be expressing their intention to lead from their spiritual view of life in any of the following ways:

  • They are taking their first steps to bring their spiritual view of life into their leadership
  • They are in the process of integrating their spiritual view of life with their leadership
  • They consciously lead from their spiritual view of life

During each of our interviews with business executives and other leaders, a specific 1-1/2 to 2-hour interview format (see the left column to download the interview template) was followed. We began by asking them to share their career history and current responsibilities, and then asked in-depth questions about their spiritual view of life and personal spiritual evolution.

From there, we focused on the more practical aspects of their leadership and asked them to share stories that demonstrated how they lead from a spiritual basis. Finally, in the last portion of the interview, we asked a variety of questions about general issues of leading an organization, such as their views on the purpose of business and their inner processes for making decisions.

Typically, an interview often strayed from the sequence of questions. However, the final transcripts were organized according to the structured interview guide in order to make it easier to compare and contrast the various interviews, question by question.

A promise was made to every leader interviewed: he or she would be able to read the full transcript and edit it before it was published in the knowledge-base. This provided a trusted environment in which the leaders could express themselves openly, and later be able to affirm what they wanted published for public reading. Therefore, every word of every interview transcript has been fully approved by the interviewed leader.

Interview format

The interview protocol started by gaining basic information about the leader, and proceeded in four sections.


  • Name:
  • Gender:
  • Current Position:
  • Years in Current Position:
  • Current Company:
  • Current Industry:
  • Total Years in a Leadership Position:
  • Previous Positions/Companies*:

(* List any previous positions and companies for which you have spiritual-based experiences to share during this interview)


  • Tell us about your work career – an overview of how you've grown from your earliest job to the present.
  • Tell us about your current position and company – What are your major responsibilities?

(If you are retired, tell us about the most recent position/company when you practiced your spiritual-based leadership.)


  • How would you define "spirituality"?
  • How is spirituality (a) distinct from and/or (b) related to religion for you?
  • How would you describe your consciously held spiritual point of view?
    • Your spiritual view of life
    • Your spiritual purpose for (a) your life and (b) your work
    • Your spiritual principles/values
  • Based on your answers above, what 1 - 4 word "spiritual theme" would best describe your overall spiritual basis and perspectives?
  • How do you "grow" yourself spiritually – what are your current spiritual practices?
  • How have you evolved spiritually to where you are today?

We would like to hear how you embody your spirituality in your day-to-day activities of leadership. Select 2 or 3 examples that most clearly show how you have led your organization from your spiritual point of view. Please tell us

  • What was the situation? What role did your spirituality play in it? What was the outcome?
  • What was the involvement and reactions of any of these interest groups: employees? peers? superiors? customers? competitors? stock analysts? the media? family? friends?
  • From your spiritual point of view, how would define the purpose of business (a) for your organization? (b) in general?
  • From your spiritual point of view, how do you define and measure "success" (a) in your career? (b) for your organization? What is an example of each?
  • From your spiritual point of view, what is the importance and priority of (a) financial goals relative to other goals of the organization, and (b) productivity goals relative to other goals of the organization? How have you put these priorities into practice?
  • From your spiritual point of view, what type of organizational culture do you strive to create? How do you go about promoting, encouraging, and reinforcing the fulfilment of this vision?
  • From your spiritual point of view, what is your future vision for how (a) your organization and (b) business in general, could benefit the nation and the world as a whole?


  • From your spiritual point of view, how would you describe your relationships with other executives?
  • From your spiritual point of view, how would you describe your relationships with major stakeholders of your organization?
  • Where do you feel you have more to learn about being a spiritual-based leader – i.e., where is the next focus for your growth as such a leader?
  • What spiritual-based questions do you ask yourself internally to help guide you in making decisions?
  • What advice do you have for others who want to lead from their spiritual point of view?
  • Is there anything else you'd like to speak about?