Blog @ Resurgence

Spiritual intelligence (SQ) – better work, better life, better being

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Those of you who know me and read the title of this post may think ‘she must have lost the plot… too much free time’….. But please bear with me and read on, I promise there is some science behind it.

From IQ to EQ to SQ:

The concept of intelligence quotient (IQ) has been in use for over a century. IQ measures our ability to analyse, reason, think abstractly, use language, visualize, and comprehend (corresponds to our mind). In the mid-1990s, Daniel Goleman introduced the concept and importance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) which is our self-knowledge, self-awareness, social sensitivity, empathy and ability to communicate successfully with others (corresponds to our heart).

In his book the 8th Habit, Stephen Covey also mentions the Physical intelligence (PQ) which refers to our ability to maintain and develop our physical fitness (corresponds to our body).

In recent decade a new concept of Intelligence has emerged called Spiritual Intelligence- SQ

Covey states that, “Spiritual Intelligence is the central and most fundamental of all the intelligences because it becomes the source of guidance for the other three.”

Put very simply, Spiritual Intelligence is the key to personal fulfillment and sustainable lifelong performance at extraordinary levels. It is the science of human energy management that allows access to a full range of human capabilities required to succeed in life and prosper in the current economic environment and social climate. (Danah Zohar and Cindy Wigglesworth)

SQ has nothing to do with religion and is not belief or faith-based- it is the new secular scientific paradigm of spirituality.

The main disciplines that have contributed to the research on SQ are neuroscience, cognitive psychology, transpersonal psychology and philosophy.

SQ is being adopted by many leaders and companies worldwide and is slowly becoming mainstream in Leadership Development Programs. SQ training is also used in the workplace to improve job satisfaction and raise productivity.

SQ and Leadership- Characteristics of high SQ:

Covey defines Spiritual Quotient as “conscience, ” having the following characteristics: enthusiastic, intuitive, takes responsibility, moral, wise, integrity, servant, humble, fair, ethical, abundant, compassionate, respectful, and cause-oriented”

Danah Zohar, has introduced the following 12 Principles of Spiritually Intelligent Leadership:

  • Self-awareness: Knowing what I believe in and value, and what deeply motivates me
  • Spontaneity: Living in and being responsive to the moment
  • Being vision- and value-led: Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly
  • Holism: Seeing larger patterns, relationships, and connections; having a sense of belonging
  • Compassion: Having the quality of “feeling-with” and deep empathy
  • Celebration of diversity: Valuing other people for their differences, not despite them
  • Field independence: Standing against the crowd and having one’s own convictions
  • Humility: Having the sense of being a player in a larger drama, of one’s true place in the world
  • Tendency to ask fundamental “Why?” questions: Needing to understand things and get to the bottom of them
  • Ability to reframe: Standing back from a situation or problem and seeing the bigger picture; seeing problems in a wider context
  • Positive use of adversity: Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and suffering
  • Sense of vocation: Feeling called upon to serve, to give something back

Models for developing and measuring spiritual intelligence are increasingly used in corporate settings and being adopted by companies worldwide. Few examples include- McKinsey, Shell, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Starbucks, Merck Pharmaceuticals, the Co-operative Bank and many more.

Both McKinsey and PwC are developing global training initiatives and programs in Spiritual Intelligence in conjunction with some of the great thought leaders in this space.

The example of SQ & EQ leadership initiative that I would like to give here is from Google. It is a story about a Google SW Engineer – Chade-Meng Tan (Meng) who developed a popular course for Google employees called “Search Inside Yourself”. Meng distils Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence into a set of practical and proven tools and skills that anyone can learn and develop. His program is grounded in science and expressed in a way that even a sceptical, compulsively pragmatic, engineering-oriented brain like Meng’s can process (worth a watch, see link at the end).

Meng still works at Google but his official job title is now: ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ and his job description is “Enlighten minds, open hearts, create world peace”.

As for myself, coming from an atheist background and a very ‘left brain’ analytical, realistic home, I would normally (in the past) not read anything further if it had the world ‘Spiritual’ in the title.  But having learned a lot now and listened to some great speakers on the subject, I am a true believer in the value and importance of Spiritual Intelligence.

And as for Corporate Australia- I wish to see more ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ like job titles around and ‘Search Inside Yourself’ type development courses on the corporate curriculum…

Chade-Meng Tan: “Search Inside Yourself”, Authors at Google

by Ayala Domani

Some references, sources and further information on Spiritual Intelligence:


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