Spiritual Intelligence: Leaders are not born, They Develop

Here are two simple questions posed to me by my daughter:  Who are your spiritual heroes, those people you admire, living, dead or fictional.  And, list the characteristics –the traits –that caused you to admire them. 

Turns out, it was not so simple a question as I thought.   She was telling me about her Leadership class, and how the class all seemed to arrive together with the typical well-known names: Jesus, Buddha, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Deepak Chopra.  She continued by listing the descriptions of these people: loving compassionate, kind, forgiving, courageous, honest, generous, persistent, wise, and inspiring.   I continued to think while she prattled on, because in reviewing the list she provided, only one woman appeared.

My daughter then explained the four levels of Intelligence, that when combined, make a good leader: 1- PI Physical Intelligence, taking care of your body to support the leader, and I guess the other three intelligences; 2- IQ- Intelligence Quotient, it seems a leaders does require some sort of brain; 3- EI- Emotional Intelligence, those interpersonal and communication skills  which, upon delving further, leads to;  4- SI- Spiritual Intelligence, which keeps your ego in check thus you can perform at that higher level.

What is Spiritual Intelligence (SI)? According to Cindy Wigglesworth, President of Deep Change, Inc., and one who has been researching SI for a while, “SI is the ability to behave with Wisdom and Compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace (equanimity) regardless of the circumstances.” 

In addition she explains her definition, “Wisdom and Compassion together compose the manifestation of love. Behave is important because it focusses on how well we maintain our center and stay calm and treat each other with wisdom and compassion—regardless of the situation.”  That last phrase is the coup de grace. When the world is crashing down around you and stress is the center of your being, maintain your compassion and wisdom and above all, behave yourself.

Someone who exemplifies wisdom and compassion, who keeps it together, no matter how stressed? My list started to come together as it was one of the first lessons taught to me by my parents, and it was a simple phrase: ‘When you are angry, count to 10 before you speak.’  A variation of this lesson appeared in the baby book when raising children, my mantra was: ‘give yourself a time out.’  I would think a leader, or a supervisor at work, would understand these concepts.  Alas, I am wrong as corporations are spending big dollars to hire consultants to teach employees how to: “insert a mental pause into your reactions and take a slow belly breath (or several). Then consider what would my higher self do now?”   (Wigglesworth)  In other words, give yourself a time out, excuse yourself and go to the ladies room or get some coffee. Think before you speak, and that will bring you in touch with that higher self—your spiritual intelligence.

A dear friend recently told me how she was called into the boss’s office for her yearly review.  She was expecting a few kudos and lauds, balanced with some needs for improvement.  But before she knew it, she was being ‘reamed a new one.’  She did attempt to explain and defend her actions and situation which the boss refused to listen. Instead, the boss became louder and angrier. The result: this business now had one unhappy employee who left the boss’s office and immediately began searching for new employment.  The story does not end there. In an after-hours gathering with co-workers at the local watering hole, my friend discovered she was not alone.  This boss had displayed this similar performance to many others at the table. The result: a LOT of unhappiness is at this place of business.

Happiness is an American right. Our forefathers placed the pursuit of happiness into our Declaration of Independence.  More recently, studies showed that there is a BIG correlation between happiness andjob satisfaction. The International Journal of Academic Research in Business described the correlation of happiness as a flow concept. The flow that comprises a wonderful sense of happiness depends on what state the person is experiencing, what he wishes and what he thinks occur in tandem, and all of these flows come together simultaneously. Guess where a person experiences this flow off happiness the most? At work!  One of the main causes of happiness is job satisfaction!

Let us do some math:  If A + B = C, then Job Happiness (A) + Good Leadership (B) = Great Productivity (C).  Great productivity brings bigger dividends to the business in longer team relationships (no time and money lost finding new employees) and longer term earning potential (financial success) at all levels from shareholders to stakeholders.  

How can you determine someone’s SI when hiring a new employee? Ask the applicant to share a difficult story about a difficult person. Ask what they did to handle the situation and why they handled it that way.  Then turn the tables. Ask them what they think was going on from the other individual’s point of view?  If they cannot see the change in paradigm, they cannot function with SI.

But back to the original question: Who are my spiritual heroes?  I was able to add to the list a bunch of females. Abigail Adams, self-educated, entrepreneur, compassionate, concerned for women, loving, courageous, and many more traits.  Fanny Crosby, who although born blind, wrote over 8000 hymns in her lifetime. Sybil Luddington, a self-taught 15 year old, who did an overnight ride in the pouring rain across thick woods in the country side of New York to warn the British were coming, poem worthy it is. My parents who taught me to count to 10. Any mother and/or wife who balances a home, work, children, maybe a husband and a boss.

Who do you admire?