Spiritual Intelligence

by Cindy Wigglesworth

Common questions

  1. Surely spirituality is nothing to do with work?
  2. How can spiritual intelligence be more than an expensive add-on that has nothing to do with the bottom line?
  3. What’s the difference between emotional and spiritual intelligence?
  4. Isn’t there a danger of people clashing over their different religious beliefs?
  5. How do I go about developing my spiritual intelligence?

 

1. Surely spirituality is nothing to do with work?

Not true: spiritual intelligence – the ability to set direction with vision and values, to remain personally humble, to access inner strength and calmness – are spiritual qualities that are found in truly great leaders.

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2. How can spiritual intelligence be more than an expensive add-on that has nothing to do with the bottom line?

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.’ 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 correlated with 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.

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3. What’s the difference between emotional and spiritual intelligence?

In childhood, we also begin to develop some early social and relationship skills, but for many of us emotional intelligence (EQ) more fully comes online in adulthood, when we realise (usually as a result of challenges at work or in romantic relationships) that we need to improve our interactions with others. Spiritual intelligence (SQ) typically becomes a focus later in life, as we begin to search for meaning and ask questions such as, ‘Is this all there is?’ We need to have basic competence in EQ before we can successfully begin spiritual growth. That is, some degree of emotional self-awareness (understanding our own emotions) and empathy (caring about other people’s emotions) – two of the most important EQ skills – are an important foundation for the development of spiritual intelligence.

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4. Isn’t there a danger of people clashing over their different religious beliefs?

The next thing you might encounter is resistance. People sometimes get nervous when the topic of spirituality comes up in the workplace. Because religion can be a controversial topic, it is often taboo in organisations. Using the faith-neutral and faith-friendly language of SQ (based on Conscious Pursuits’ model) can help people to get comfortable talking about the topic of spiritual intelligence. With this language, people from different religious backgrounds can talk to each other about spirituality without creating or inflaming tension. This language has been successfully used with people of all major faith traditions and with agnostics, secularists and atheists. The language transcends those differences.

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5. How do I go about developing my spiritual intelligence?

The first step is to measure where you are now. After that the next step is to practice shifting perspectives – seeing issues from others’ points of view. Assess your life purpose and your values, and then set aside time for some form of regular practice, such as meditation, and practice listening to your higher self.

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