Spiritual Intelligence

by Cindy Wigglesworth

What benefits can spirituality offer at work?

When you hear the phrase ‘spiritual intelligence’, you probably don’t immediately think of business leadership. After all, what does spirituality have to do with work?

Actually, spiritual intelligence may be the hidden key to truly great leadership. Here’s why: in his best-selling books, Built to Last and Good to Great, Jim Collins concluded that great leadership is a key success factor for great companies. In his research, he discovered that truly great leaders

  • Set direction with vision and values
  • Have faith that their company will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties
  • Demonstrate a profound personal humility.

And in Resonant Leadership, Richard Boyatzis cites research showing the importance of compassion and mindfulness to the ability of leaders to sustain high productivity levels over the long-term without burning out.

As you’ll discover in this topic, these qualities (and others related to superior leadership) are closely linked to spiritual intelligence.

When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves.’

Lao Tzu

Leadership qualities associated with spiritual intelligence

Being smart and well-educated doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be a good leader. As Collins suggests, greatness seems to come from a deeper place.

According to the major wisdom traditions, self-awareness, inner strength and faith are important spiritual characteristics to cultivate. Jesus went into the wilderness to hear the voice of the infinite creator, as did Abraham, Moses and Mohammed. Native Americans fast for days alone in the wild, in quest for a vision. Buddhists, Hindus, yogis and Taoists practise meditation to discover their true nature and cultivate a sense of inner calm and strength.

These qualities are also important for business leaders. They are prerequisites for the ultimate success – success that benefits you, your customers, your employees and society as a whole.

If you are willing to know yourself and your place in the universe, you may realise this kind of ultimate success.

When your work and your values are in tune…

Addressing spiritual development at work benefits everyone – including your employees and your business. According to Abraham Maslow, ‘If you are doing the work that you love and are devoted to the value that you hold highest, you are being as selfish as possible, and yet are also being unselfish and altruistic.’

Benefits for employees

Spiritual intelligence means less ego, and so less drama and emotional upset, and more higher self (consideration of the good of the whole). This reduction in egotism yields many benefits for organisations, most importantly trusting relationships that create employee engagement, which is linked to innovation and performance. So increasing spiritual intelligence in the workplace creates a healthy organisation in which

  • People and relationships flourish
  • Employees trust their leaders and are engaged and creative
  • Productivity and innovation grow as people abandon drama and in-fighting
  • People become more resilient and inwardly calm and are therefore better able to cope with change.