Many leaders struggle to find a theoretical framework within which to approach their leadership. Often leaders draw upon personal aspects of spiritual practice, scholarship, and vocational experience with the hope of developing a deeper method of conceptualising all the elements that comprise relevant and meaningful ways of being and leading in the world.

In her 2013 dissertation: Laughing Buddhas: The Everyday Embodiment of Contemplative Leadership, Kim Nolan extends the inquiry, examining leadership as a path toward wholeness and investigating the research question: ‘What is called into being for the contemplative leader?’

The roots of the question originate with the conceptual framework set forth by Kriger and Seng (2005), advanced by Fry and Kriger (2009), and further elaborated upon by the author (Nolan, 2012a; Nolan 2012b), adding new perspectives on progressive stages of mental complexity (Kegan & Lahey, 2009) and progressive stages of being from the Buddhist wisdom tradition.

In order to enter the lifeworld of contemplative leaders and inquire into their everyday embodied experience, five female leaders serving within community-based settings engaged in a series of in-depth, phenomenological interviews. Thick and rich data emerged. Findings of this study suggest there are eight C’s of a being expressed by the contemplative leader, supporting the construction of an integrative model of Contemplative Leadership.

An electronic version of the dissertation can be viewed/downloaded from: