If Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) leverages wisdom, compassion and seeing meaning and purpose in life and work, how and why do you use it beyond IQ and EQ?
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We all know what IQ is, right? And we’ve learned that to get ahead in a career that depends heavily on interacting with people, we need to develop our EQ. We still find vast chasms of awareness between those that do and don’t “get” the value of EQ. But what’s this SQ people are now talking about. Often in the context of “mindfulness“?
Let’s start with some definitions
- Intelligence Quotient (IQ) suggests how “bright” we are. How rationally intelligent and analytical we are. I call these our “hard skills“.
- Emotional Intelligence (EQ) deals with our social and relationship skills and personal networks. Our ability to recognize and leverage our emotions and empathy and hence our influence. I call these our “soft skills“.
- Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) then is our ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining equanimity regardless of the situation. To appreciate and develop our wholeness, our purpose, our world view. I call these our “meaning skills“.
- And I’ve seen mindfulness defined as the mental state of being consciously aware of the present moment, quietening out all egoic inputs. While calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, higher self thoughts, and sensations therein.
OK, so what is Spiritual Intelligence?
IQ equips us to individually do suitable justice to a job matching our abilities. EQ is the next level of “intelligence” that enables us to interact socially with others. To influence them or leverage their influence in helping us develop and achieve our objectives. The former “gets” us a job, whereas the latter enhances our ability to develop it successfully into a career. Why? Because we’ve all learned that we can’t do that all on our own, right?
Spiritual intelligence (SQ) takes this another step further. It assumes the above and makes meaning of it. In terms of our bigger picture. Developing it into establishing and pursuing our purpose. To keep reminding us what we’re trying to achieve.
OK, so what do I do with SQ?
This is where I like to personalize this. Most of us look at life and work independently. I like to ask: “what’s your life’s work?“. Because that brings them both together and transcends the job or career questions. And gives who you are, and what you do and above all what you want to achieve much greater context.
Using Bill Gates as an example, once you’ve made all the money you need or want, what then? Would you agree he’s trasncended the “money thing” and is really making a difference to some things that really matter today? That’s using spiritual intelligence (SQ). That’s following his “higher self”. Into making a difference.
Most of us are so busy trying to “make it” that we have little energy left to consider too many bigger pictures, right? SQ is about stepping back – frequently – to do just that. Reflect and calibrate. In terms of meaning, relationships, purpose and direction. Rather than status, mortgages, KPI’s and cashflow.
And we first have to master this SQ notion for ourselves and our own life, before we can hope to implement it. And leverage it within the bigger picture around us.
Spiritual Intelligence in Leadership
Spiritually intelligent leaders usually “get” the value of leveraging mindfullness in terms of achieving extraordinary outcomes. For themselves; their familes; their work and their business(es).
They are personally aware of values, what motivates and what hinders. The impact of everyone being able to “connect the dots”. To operate comfortably with compassion, sponteneity, empathy and transparency. Acknowledging and leveraging diversity and humility. Without feeling like a wooss.
That equips the SQ savvy leader to be much more focused on the big picture; the longer term. Aligning understanding of and performance to the team or organisation’s vision. Empowering the employee to create; to have a go. To innovate and to deliver results beyond the written KPI’s. Why? Because in the SQ led environment everyone feels that they and their contribution are valued. That they belong. That they can aspire to and facilitate much greater outcomes than what’s been there before them.
Spiritual Intelligence at work
That peers aren’t necessarily competitors, but skills and resources who, if collaborated with, create multiples of results over the “I win, you lose” paradigms. Knowing that if they are driven by “what’s in it for the customer” rather than “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM), everybody wins. Why? Because this transcends scarcity thinking into abundance thinking. Towards greater meaning. Leveraging greater purpose. Encouraging greater customer spend. Growing revenues. Enhanced bottom lines and improved cashflow that can be leveraged to investment in innovation that keeps everyone motivated to grow. Personally. Professionally. Plus the ongoing value add to customers, business partners and the other stakeholders.
That there is a business acumen understanding that appreciates only the best ideas earn the right to be funded. Irrespective of whose idea they were. That personal agendas get in the way of creating and delivering what the customer wants. Supported of course by SQ savvy leadership understanding that “what you measure is what you get”. And has interactive performance management and dynamic remuneration models in place. Ones that empower, favour and enable collaboration rather than impeding it.
SQ – So What?
The fundamental home of SQ of course, lies within each individual. Our values, our culture, our beliefs and our emotional maturity all play an important part here. Often much of these backgrounds have to be overcome. Meaning and purpose helps achieve that.
In my coaching work I’ve probed carefully with selected clients I thought would be “ready” for this level of depth of discussion. And in most cases they have responded incredibly to the question: “what do you think your “life’s work” might be?”
Studying SQ as I have last year, I’ve found that I too aspire to another level of purpose. One that very simply defined as: “my life’s work is to help you making a difference to yours“. In a personal, one on one coaching and mentoring relationship. That has you define and then be held accountable to achieving that (or those) purpose(s). More meaningfully. And more strategically in whatever your bigger picture worldview is looking towards.
Are you starting to see the value of exploring this first for yourself, then for your family? So that you can introduce spiritual intelligence (SQ) carefully but assertively into your sphere of influence in your “life’s work”? I’ve met a growing number of very influential people and organizations that have started banking the benefits of this level of “mindfullness”. In their life and in their work. And in their companies.
Are you willing to be one of the pioneers contributing energy towards using this to help make a difference? In the micro and in the macro sense? To be coached into it and then start coaching others to do the same?
What if you could?
Questions? Feel free to email me at
DAVID GRIEVE says
SQ – I have never heard of this. Interesting. The concept of purpose is important, although I would not bracket it under ‘spiritual’.
I would use the ‘tombstone test’ – this is far more visual: so how do you wish to be remembered?