Potential of developing Spiritual Intelligence in one’s personal and professional life


Final Assignment of Emotional Intelligence facilitated by Basil Leonard

University of Stellenbosch Business School 2016

Sonja Hannus 


1.0. Introduction and research questions

It can be said that Western societies have respected and emphasized values such as productivity, performance and measurable, tangible results. People are encouraged to be achievement oriented and to seek to maximize their financial and material wealth. Mental well-being and self-knowledge have traditionally not received as much emphasis. Spirituality and universal questions, in many Western societies and cultures remain as taboos. However, the attitudes seem to be slowly changing – people are seeking more meaning to their lives. It is said that especially the younger generation, millennials, place higher emphasis on work life balance as well as meaningful and personally fulfilling activities and jobs, than their earlier generations (Salahuddin, 2010).


Also, many people in Western societies do not distinct between being religious and spiritual – they might thought to be overlapping or even one and same thing. Spirituality, however, does not need to have anything to do with religion. For me, along with several scholars, spirituality is about knowing oneself on a deeper level, and seeing the connection between oneself and the surrounding world. Though spirituality is a broad concept and up to every individual to define the meaning for herself, it can be said that spirituality is about a larger connection and meaning in life. It is a universal experience that touches us all. Spiritual intelligence can be defined as accessing our higher self, which drives our life choices. It is going beyond what is rational and rather trusting our gut feeling. A spiritually intelligent person knows himself and his values so clearly that decision-making is value driven and effortless, leading to happiness, successful and meaningful life. Regarding success, people are increasingly starting to define success in ways that include making a lasting, positive impact on the world. Mackey and Sisodia (2013) claim that leaders in particular should understand that success, instead of narrow definition of wealth or eminence, is about making a lasting, positive impact on the world.


In this paper, I make an attempt to explain the concept of spiritual intelligence as well as personal leadership, based on earlier research. I then explain how developing spiritual intelligence can help one to increase her well-being and success in both personal and professional life. Ways of developing one’s spiritual intelligence will then be presented, based on earlier work of scholars. I will explain how are all looking for meaning in our lives, and how developing spiritual intelligence enhances decision making towards more fulfilling path in al life areas. Further, I aim to show how increased happiness and meaning in personal life is related to professional success and satisfaction. I am in particular interested on how increased spiritual intelligence contributes to organizational performance. I examine whether increased spiritual intelligence leads to increased 1) well-being in all life areas and consequently to increased 2) organizational performance and productivity. The research question of this paper is:


  1. How can one benefit of developing her spiritual intelligence in her personal and professional life?
  2. How do organizations benefit of increased spiritual intelligence and personal leadership of employees?
  3. How can one develop his spiritual intelligence?


2.0. Literature review

 2.1. Definitions of spirituality and spiritual intelligence


Most of us have spiritual heroes – people who we look up to for their certain characteristics. As Cindy Wigglesworth (2012) has noted, we tend to admire people who possess high integrity and are courageous, loving, calm, visionary, selfless, inspiring, and pursue to make a positive difference on the world. Most people aim to be authentic and live as their noblest self. However, to successfully achieve this one requires understanding and developing multiple intelligences. Shivani (2011) defines intelligence as using what you know in the right way at the right time in the right place with the right intention. Increasingly, studies are showing how traditional cognitive intelligence (IQ) measuring linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities, explains only a small portion of human potential. Researchers have aimed for years to explain the complexity of human potential and how it may be measured by introducing several other intelligences besides the traditional IQ. These include Social, Physical Spiritual, Creative, Moral, Environmental, Spatial and Verbal, among others.


Friedman and MacDonald (2002) review definitions of spirituality. According to them, spirituality can be defined as: (a) focus on ultimate meaning, (b) awareness and development of multiple levels of consciousness, (c) experience of the preciousness and sacredness of life, and (d) experiencing oneself beyond the physical existence as a part of greater whole. Spiritual intelligence (SQ) is said to be the ultimate, deepest intelligence, and thus an essential component of both personal and professional development. According to Cindy Wigglesworth (2012), with SQ we access the voice of our noblest self – our higher self – and let it drive our lives. Wigglesworth argues that personal and spiritual growth cannot be viewed as a separate journey – they go hand in hand. There is, in her experience, a strong connection between the personal and the professional, between the inner life of the self and the outer world of effectiveness and impact. In other words, our personal development changes us and makes us more aware of our traits, values, dreams and feelings. And who we are ultimately affects how we lead, how we do decisions and therefore determines our path of choices. The concept of leadership, in this context, should not be limited into purely managing others at work. As Wigglesworth (2012) notes, we are all leaders and role models in our everyday lives; we dynamically take different roles of leadership depending on the stage we are in our lives. We are leaders to our children, our colleagues, to our romantic partners, to acquaintances – to everyone we interact with. However, deep, authentic leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. Knowing ourselves enables us to show compassion for the world around us, and contribute to make a difference in the world. (Wigglesworth, 2012)


Vaughan (2002) defines spiritual intelligence as the ability to create meaning based on deep understanding of existential questions – philosophical question of what we are or why we are here – and awareness of and the ability to use multiple levels of consciousness in problem solving. Wigglesworth defines spiritual intelligence (SQ) as the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation. Until date there are no validated measures of SQ (Halama & Strizenec, 2004). However, spirituality measures have been validated and correlate spirituality to improved health and well-being (Veach & Chappel, 1992). George et al., (2000) note that several studies suggest a relationship between spirituality, individual life purpose and satisfaction, and health. Vaughan (2002) notes that although little research of the brain associated with spirituality has been done, numerous studies of meditation research suggest that significant physiological changes result from even limited practice (Walsh & Vaughan, 1993).


Vaughan (2002) presents that SQ is concerned with the inner life of mind and spirit and its role in the world. A spiritually intelligent person possesses a deep understanding of existential questions and insight into multiple levels of consciousness. He further notes that if the evolution of life from stardust to mineral, vegetable, animal, and human existence implies some form of intelligence rather than being a purely random process, it ought to be called spiritual. According to Vaughan (2002), spiritual intelligence emerges from consciousness of ever-deepening awareness of matter, life, body, mind, soul, and spirit. It requires understanding of our relationship to the transcendent, to each other, to the earth and all beings. He notes that spiritual intelligence is related to emotional intelligence in terms of spiritual practice including development of intrapersonal and interpersonal sensitivity. Paying attention to subjective thoughts and feelings and cultivating empathy is part of increasing awareness of the inner spiritual life.


2.2. Potential of SQ in life


In this paper, spiritual intelligence is defined as the ability to create meaning based on deep understanding of existential questions, and awareness of and the ability to use multiple levels of consciousness in problem solving. The paper explores the role of spiritual intelligence in one’s personal and professional life. I aim to identify how developing SQ can enhance one’s success and happiness on all life areas. Further, the relationship between spiritually intelligent leadership and organizational performance will be examined. In the next chapter, the definition of conscious leadership will be introduced and shown how developing spiritual intelligence can increase organizational performance.


Next, earlier research will be examined to argue how developing one’s spiritual intelligence can positively affect one’s personal as well as professional life. As explained, we are all leaders in our lives – to everyone we encounter and interact with in our everyday lives. To lead with integrity, trust, care and love are likely to build organizational cultures that reflect these traits and lead to organizational success (Mackey and Sisodia, 2013). Shivani (2011) says that when spiritual intelligence is brought to the workplace, others are seen and treated as people instead of objects to get a job done, and individuals have an opportunity to learn the inner, subtle skills of building great relationships in any area of life. These abilities include trustworthiness, acting with integrity, empathy, and leadership with a positive and compelling vision. Wigglesworth (2012) says that spiritual intelligence is necessary to:


– To find and use the deepest inner resources to care and the power to tolerate and adapt

– To identify and align personal values with a clear sense of purpose

– To live those values without compromise and thereby demonstrate integrity by example

– To understand where and how each of the above is sabotaged by the ego


When all organizational members are viewed as leaders, it is important that all members possess capacity to inspire, realize own strengths and encourage others to do the same. When organizational members know their personal values and passions, it is easy to align these values with corporate values, and pursue passions and utilize strengths at work as well. Spiritual intelligence is needed for this process. Wigglesworth (2012), among with several scholars note that when a person does something from their inner resources, she produces better quality, is more passionate and thus satisfied and more productive. This is a win-win situation for both the company and the employee. Leading with integrity is crucial for healthy relationships and conscious organizational culture. Leaders who are not able to show them true selves, in other words, they interact behind their ego, cannot build authentic relationships with their employees. Similarly, employees who cannot be truly themselves at work, cannot reach their full potential. This is naturally harmful for both the people and the organization. By realizing the importance of spiritual intelligence and developing it, organizational members will find meaning in their work and contribute to the organizational goals fully.


Vaughan (2002) presents that a spiritually intelligent person possesses capacity to see things from more than one perspective and to recognize relationships between perception, belief, and behavior. Most people expect that their responsibility remains in behavior but not for beliefs or perceptions – however, these are closely interconnected. Vaughan (2002) further notes that spiritual maturity is expressed through wisdom and compassionate action in the world. Wigglesworth (2012) lists benefits of possessing high spiritual intelligence:


Self-awareness: Knowing what one believes in and values, and what deeply motivates her

Spontaneity: Living in and being responsive to the moment

Being vision- and value-led: Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly

Big picture: Seeing larger patterns, relationships and connections; having a sense of belonging

Compassion and deep empathy: Ability to listen and pay attention to understand how others are feeling and why and expressing deep understanding to their misery

Embracing diversity: Valuing other people for their differences, not despite them

Field independence: Standing against the crowd and having one’s own beliefs

Curiosity to ask fundamentalWhy?” questions: Need to understand and get to the bottom of things

Ability to reframe: Standing back from a situation or problem and seeing the bigger picture or wider context

Positive use of adversity: Learning and growing from mistakes, setbacks and suffering

Sense of vocation: Feeling called upon to serve, to give back


2.3. Role of motivation in spiritual intelligence


When talking about the concepts of well-being and organizational performance, it is important to cover motivation. Motivation is a mental construct that makes people move to do something. In the context of work, motivation derives not only from extrinsic drivers, such as bonuses and promotions, but more importantly from intrinsic drivers. In an organization, leader’s ability to persuade and influence others to work towards a mutual direction reflects his talent to motivate. As presented, leader in this context can and should refer to all organizational members. Thus, the level of motivation contributes in a significant manner to organizational performance and productivity. Wigglesworth (2012) notes that the deepest motivator for any human being is a clear sense of meaning and purpose. This can only arise when we know who we are – in other words, we are self-actualized. She presents that this is where emotional intelligence flows into spiritual intelligence – only in this state of self-awareness are we able to see our purpose. When people are intrinsically motivated, they are more effective, productive and creative.


2.4. From intellectual knowledge into action: developing one’s SQ


A wide range of goals can be set for developing one’s spiritual intelligence, such as inner peace and self-realization. As people reflect their inner feelings to their external environment, increased spiritual intelligence among organizational members leads to increased harmony, peace and clarity on organizational level. Vaughan (2012) states that whatever the goal is, the process always involves a transformation of consciousness. People become more aware of their thoughts, beliefs, mental patters and actions. When the level of spiritual intelligence increases, unconsciousness transforms to commitment, integrity and spiritual freedom, fear and defensiveness to love and compassion, and from ignorance and confusion to wisdom and understanding (Vaughan, 1995). Traditions, practitioners and research widely agrees that development of spiritual intelligence can truly happen only through spiritual practice. Practice can deepen the capacity for love and compassion, wisdom and transcendence, and help people develop other qualities to which they may desire to possess. Spiritual intelligence enables one to recognize the value of these qualities in others as well as within oneself.


Shivani (2011) argues that there are methods to help recognize the illusions and misperceptions, which prevent us being true to ourselves. The more these methods are practiced the faster the benefits take place and the deeper we develop our spiritual intelligence. Meditation manifests as self-awareness. Meditation will help us to learn about ourselves, restore the ability to control our thoughts and feelings, sharpen our ability to distinct truth from illusion, and as a result make intelligent decisions. Detached Observation is the ability to see clearly and understand deeply what is happening around and within us. We became conscious and able to objectively observe our thoughts and beliefs. It also enables us to out our energy into things that truly matter to us. Reflection involves taking time out of our daily actions to review and re-assess past experiences of the interactions with others. This allows us to build awareness of the connection between inner world of thoughts and feelings and the outer world of action and the consequences of those actions. By connecting with the higher source of spiritual power, we empower ourselves and realize our connection and role in the universe. This helps us clear the mental clutter of our mind and focus on our consciousness. Practice refers to putting the knowledge into action. Learning, new insights and new realizations are only theories and have no power to change your life unless they are brought into action, allowing us to shape new behaviors and new forms of expression. Spiritual vision is learning to see only the best in others and by doing so empowering others to develop the best in themselves. Seeing is creating – how we see others is how we create the other within us, which will be both a reflection of how we see ourselves at that moment and the quality of the energy we will then give to others.


Alexander et al. (1993) found that, compared to controls, employees who practiced meditation over a 3-month period showed less anxiety and stress, increased job satisfaction, and improved personal relationships at work. Ellison (1983) describes a measure of spirituality, the Spiritual Well Being Scale, which includes subscales for spiritual belief and existential well-being (EWB). EWB was positively correlated with self-esteem and social skills. Spiritually oriented people appear to have improved human relations and exhibit greater empathy (Elmer, et al., 2003).


3.0. Conclusions and future research


This paper has made an aim to show how developing one’s spiritual intelligence and personal leadership can help one to find more meaning, happiness and satisfaction in life. The research questions of this paper were:

  1. How can one benefit of developing her spiritual intelligence in her personal and professional life?
  2. How is increased SQ and personal leadership likely to affect organizational performance?
  3. How can one develop his spiritual intelligence?


This leads to increased performance and productivity in both personal and professional life, and thus contributes to organizations’ success as well. Methods to increase spiritual intelligence were then presented. As explained earlier, every one of us adapts different roles of leadership in our lives. It is our responsibility to spread happiness, compassion, harmony and peace around us. The findings of this paper concern anyone who wishes to develop her SQ, or contribute to any organizations’ performance and culture by helping others for heightened self-awareness. The message of this paper is to encourage all human beings to take a look inside and identify their values, beliefs. Developing spiritual intelligence is a lifelong and dynamic process – hardly anyone can perfectly master it. However, as it has been demonstrated, developed SQ is likely to bring great benefits into one’s life, such as increased harmony, peace, joy, happiness and compassion. Spiritually intelligent person has identified the root causes of his miseries and is able to let them go to enjoy real peace and harmony. When one is healthy and peaceful inside, they reflect this to the external environment. Consequently, this reflects as increased harmony, clarity, effectiveness, happiness and productivity at organizational level.


The field of spiritual intelligence in organizational context remains to be relatively unexplored through research. Personally, I would be curious to know how organizations in which the importance of SQ has been realized and utilized, perform compared to their competitors. It would be interesting to see how these companies in practice operate differentially, and how these practices affect the organizational performance. Also, a research examining the differences of one certain organization within a certain time period, while taking concrete measures to develop SQ among its members, would be beneficial and interesting. Personally, I believe that the importance and potential of SQ and multiple intelligences will be increasingly realized in organizations also in the Western society in the future years.








Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey & Raj Sisodia 2014


Alexander, Charles, Swanson, Gerald, C, Rainforth, Maxwell, Carlisle, Thomas, Todd, C, & Oates, R. (1993). Effects of the transcendental meditation program on stress reduction, health, and employee

Amram, Joseph (2005). Intelligence Beyond IQ:
The Contribution of Emotional and Spiritual Intelligences to Effective Business Leadership. Institute of Transpersonal Psychology April 17, 2005

Elmer, Lori, MacDonald, Douglas, & Friedman, Harris. (2003). Transpersonal psychology, physical health, and mental health: Theory, research and practice. Humanistic Psychologist, 31, 159-181.

Ellison, Craig. (1983). Spiritual well-being: Conceptualization and measurement. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 11(4), 330-340.

George, L., Larson, D., Koening, H. & McCullough, M. (2000). Spirituality and health: What we know, what we need to know. Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, 19(1), 102-116.

Halama, Peter, & Strizenec, Michal. (2004). Spiritual, existential or both? Theoretical considerations on the nature of “higher intelligences”. Studia Psychologica, 46(3), 239-253.

Macdonald, D A. (2002) Assessment of humanistic, transpersonal, and spiritual constructs: State of the science. The Journal of humanistic psychology [0022-1678] 2002 vol:42 iss:4 s:102

MacDonald, Douglas & Friedman, Harris. (2002). Assessment of Humanistic, Transpersonal and spiritual constructs: State of the science. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42(4), 102-125.

Salahuddin, Mecca M. Generational Differences Impact On Leadership Style And Organizational Success. Journal of Diversity Management, Second Quarter 2010. Volume 5, Number 2.

Vaughan, F. What is Spiritual Intelligence? Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol 42, No. 2. Spring 2002, 16-33 2003 Sage Publications.

Vaughan, F. What is Spiritual Intelligence? Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol 42, No. 2. Spring 2002, 16-33 2003 Sage Publications.

Veach, Tracy & Chappel, John. (1992). Measuring spiritual health: A preliminary study. Substance Abuse, 13(3), 139-147.

Walsh, R. & Vaughan, F. On transpersonal definitions. Journal of transpersonal psychology 25: 199-207, 1993.

Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.

My notes from the book Emotional Intelligence in Action: Training and Coaching Activities for Leaders, Managers, and Teams
by Marcia Hughes and James Bradford Terrell
Emotions are what move and motivate us. In anything we do, there is always a feeling involved – something that we are avoiding, and moving away from or something that we want and are moving toward. Fear and desire are two of our strongest emotions and have long been considered the most powerful motivators in the animal kingdom.

The chemistry of emotions can help us change our viewpoint and see the world through different attitudinal lenses depending on how we are feeling. When we create and maintain positive thoughts about ourselves and our world through self-talk, we support positive emotional states such as resourcefulness, optimism, and motivation. Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to reason with emotions and emotional signals, and to the capacity of emotion to enhance thought.

Our ability to remodel, update, and upgrade our identity, to solve problems and conflicts, will be dependent on how consciously or unconsciously we process our emotions. If we, through self reflective processes – make ourselves more conscious of processes that determine our behaviour – we will be more flexible and tolerant, and have available to us a larger repertoire of behaviours.

15 competences of Emotional Intelligence

1. Self-regard
Skill of liking ourselves just the way we are, including self-confidence and self-respect: how good we feel about ourselves and our ability to accept ourselves. Without self-regard, we cannot participate authentically in life, be truly reliable in work or love, or fully express the gifts we have to give.

2. Emotional self-awareness “An awareness of one’s own personality or individuality”

The ability to recognise our feelings. To differentiate between them, to know what we are feeling and why, and to know what caused the feeling. To communicate our feelings to others. It helps us to keep our eye on the ball and stay aligned with our true motivations. Do I know what I am feeling and why? Did I notice when it first started, or did it sneak up on me?
We can consciously tune in to our emotions and ask ourselves questions about our current emotional state and identify the reasons for our emotions. Being aware of our emotions is key to successfully interacting with our environment. People typically project onto others what they feel inside. To improve our interactions and relationships, it is necessary to examine what is going on inside ourselves. Once we are in tune with our emotions we can develop strategies to eliminate the emotions that are bringing us down.

3. Assertiveness

Emotional strength that allows us to confidentially tell others what we like and want more of, what we dislike and will not accept, and what we stand for
1. Ability to express feelings
2. Ability to express beliefs and thoughts openly
3. Ability to stand up for personal rights

Assertive people are able to express their feelings (often directly) without being aggressive or abusive.
Ability to stand up for your rights, opinions, ideas, beliefs and needs while at the same time respecting those of others. Assertiveness empowers us and helps us define ourselves to others. It feeds our sense of self-regard because we are caring for ourselves by announcing our desires, feelings and thoughts and by clearly setting our boundaries.

Assertive responses involve standing up for oneself, yet taking the other person into consideration. The assertive style involves openly and confidently expressing personal feelings and opinions, valuing oneself equal to others, being prepared to listen to the other’s point of view…”

How much happier and more effective would we be if, in risky situations, we were consistently able to state our positions yet maintain or even deepen relationships? Assertiveness enables us to be true to ourselves and to respect others.

4. Independence
Ability to make decisions based on your own best-informed assessment and understanding of a situation without having to satisfy the perceived emotional needs of everyone who has an opinion about the matter.

5. Self-actualization

Competency of being able to set goals for oneself and then meet those goals. Our own measure of how successful we feel. You are engaged in life, fulfilled and willing to try new things because you know you’ll learn from them.
How be better actualise yourself?
– Get engaged with what excites you
– Set attainable goals and reach them
– Acknowledge your achievements – reflect on what you have already achieved
– Identify your values – journal about the things that are important to you and use your time accordingly.
– Accept yourself: believe in yourself, live aligned with your values. Increase self-awareness by doing Myers Briggs personality test
6. Empathy

Ability to listen and pay attention so we understand how other people are feeling and why, and even how their feelings might be likely to change.

7. Social responsibility

Being able to care and discipline our work efforts to serve the interests of individuals and groups outside of our personal needs, goals and concerns

8. Interpersonal relationships

Being able to initiate and sustain lasting relationships. Our skill in interpersonal relationships givers whether other people in our lives will feel eager to see us again or dread it. When our relationships are working well, they provide the common ground where we get to enjoy our own experience of humanness through sharing it with others.
The ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships that are characterised by intimacy and by giving and receiving affection.” 
9. Stress tolerance

Coping skill we use to keep the unavoidable pains, threats and intrusions of life form weaking our physical and emotional health. How can we build stress tolerance?
– Techniques to manage psychological impacts of stress: structured breathing, visualisation, affirmations
– Exercising
– Healthy diet
– Sufficient amount and quality of sleep
– Reprioritizing activities and involvement
– Apply generous doses of humour 🙂
10. Impulse control
Ability to regulate the buildup of nervous energy that accompanies stress without projecting it as anger. Problems in impulse control are manifested by low frustration tolerance, impulsiveness, anger control problems, abusiveness, loss of self-control and explosive and unpredictable behaviour. Controlling impulses will increase productivity and improve self-regard. It is liberating and empowering to use determination and higher order reasoning to overcome compelling urges.
11. Reality testing

Correctly evaluating the nature of our current situation according to objective criteria.

12. Flexibility
Skill to change direction rapidly without resistance and protest, and needing to be convinced when our reality changes. The ability to adjust one’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviour to changing situations and conditions. Ability to adapt to unfamiliar, unpredictable and dynamic circumstances. Flexible people are able to change their minds when evidence suggests that they are mistaken. However, flexibility must be exercised without compromising our values.
13. Problem solving

Process through which we solve problems in the world and thus are able to change it to better correspond with our needs and desires.
14. Optimism
Skill of positive expectancy that faithfully holds the vision for potential improvement in the future.
15. Happiness

Emotional skill of being more or less consistently content and satisfied in the present moment.
Tip from Basil Leonard, our motivational teacher: Stop trying to change other people. Be the change and influence them. You can change nobody expect yourself.

Great companies have great purposes

I decided long time ago that South Africa for me will be learning about life beyond the classroom. Though I am deeply grateful of the chance to take a MBA semester in a top school, I believe that Africa has more to offer to me than what I will learn at classes. However, one course, Business in Society, has proved to highly inspiring for me (which is always the motivation for me to carry on something). It is about realising the role of business in making a positive impact to its surrounding society, and the extent, nature and responsibility of this role.
On Wednesday we kicked off our course project by visiting South Africa’s largest Township, Khayelitsa. Townships refer to urban living areas that were originally reserved for non-whites, built on the periphery of towns and cities. They are supported by the government. Townships have the reputation of facing issues that risk people’s basic needs of well-being, such as not having functioning sanitary and electricity distribution. It is also a demanding environment for a business as safety is an issue. USB wants to be part of establishing a entrepreneurial culture in townships to make them flourish and provide better environment for its residents.
We will consult local entrepreneurs in business dilemmas they are facing – be it franchising vs organic growth, marketing efforts and beyond. It was such a great experience to meet these entrepreneurs, hear their stories and see their business environment.  So many great success stories of ambitious, determinant people. The most important message I took from the speakers was that persistence and standing out from the crowd will pay off. The value proposition for all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, society, government and owners – is crucial.
Lufefe Nomjana also known as the Spinach King in Khayelitsha is the young person to look out for this week. This innovative baker has turned a concept as weird as spinach bread into a thriving business. if this doesn’t shout Alive with Possibilities to you, I don’t know what does.
We also met founder of Department of Coffee, wishing to establish a coffee culture to townships, a men choir, beauty & salon owner, wishing to empower women, and manager of an affordable education program that has enabled education for thousands of people.. Such inspiring stories. Can’t wait to start consulting our case company. 🙂
IMG_0369 IMG_0370
(What am I doing?!)

“You don’t inspire your teammates by showing how amazing you are. You inspire them by showing how amazing they are.” – Robyn Benincase

Conscious leaders seek to make a positive impact on the world through their organization. They embed a sense of shared purpose and thus enable people to derive meaning from their work. They help people grow and evolve as individuals and as leaders in their own right. They make tough moral choices with clarity and consistency. Leadership in the third millennium must be based on the power of purpose, love, caring and compassion. Conscious leadership is fully human leadership; integrating masculine and feminine, the heart and the mind. It integrates Western systems and efficiency with Eastern wisdom and effectiveness. When businesses are led by individuals who are driven by service to people and the firm’s higher purpose – who lead through developing and inspiring others – it leads to peace and happiness in the individual, respect and solidarity in the community, and mission of accomplishment in the organization (Fred Kofman).


Definition of success in conscious capitalism: Making a positive difference

Conscious leaders understand that instead of narrow definition of success as ‘the attainment of wealth, posit or honours’, success is about making a lasting, positive impact on the world. They have a passion for making the world a better in some significant way. They shoulder responsibility not to maintain the status quo, but to make a positive difference. They want to alleviate human suffering and help others flourish. Effective leaders do not have to force people to do things: they inspire and motivate others to commit to change voluntarily.

Embed a shared purpose

Conscious leaders continually engage their colleagues around questions of identity and purpose. They build organizations whose higher purpose becomes engrained into the DNA. This is most effectively done through story telling. People are able to effect real change only when their emotions are engaged. Stories are the most powerful way of engaging with people at an emotional level; they can cause people to think, feel and behave differently. John Gardner has found that effective leaders tell three types of stories: “Who I am”, “Who we are”, and “Where we are going

Help people evolve and grow

The human journey should be continuous growth and personal development. In addition to personal life, work provides a great opportunity for growth. Conscious leaders treat all people with respect, regardless of their rank or role. They appreciate the unique talents and gifts of each individual and play to a person’s strengths, thus putting the individual in a position to succeed and contribute to the organization. “Business grows because people grow the business and people grow in the business

Make tough moral choices

Leaders are often confronted with dilemmas in which they have to choose between courses of action that may each be right from certain perspectives. Joseph Badaracco, Harvard professor of business ethics, says that the real test of leadership comes when the choice is between right and right. In such cases, conscious leaders act in accordance with the company’s purpose and its core values to make choices that result in the most long-term value for all of the stakeholders.

For example, a tough moral choice Whole Foods faces is simultaneous commitment to sell a full selection of animal foods, and the commitment to improve health and longevity of their customers, as well as their desire to improve animal welfare. Reasearch has shown that the consumption of animal foods beyond 10% of total calories correlates closely with increases in obesity, heat disease, stroke and cancer. Whole Foods wants to simultaneously satisfy, delight and nourish their customers while also help them to be as healthy as possible. Thus, the company has made a conscious effort to solve this by first, educating their customers about the importance of eating primarily minimally processed and unrefined plant foods. Second, they continually work to upgrade the quality and welfare of the animal foods they do sell. They believe that their dual strategy of educating customers about the value of eating primarily minimally processed and unrefined plant foods, combined with improving the healthiness of the animal foods that they do sell, is a win-win approach.

Danger of charismatic leadership

Charismatic leaders tend to create organizations that are heavily dependent on them; as soon as they leave, things begin to fall apart. Conscious leaders, by contrast, seek to sense and serve the organization’s collective spirit. They lead by example, focusing on building great organizations that endure over time. All leaders, but especially highly charismatic ones, are susceptible to the trap of narcissism. The best way to fight this is to have trusted advisers such as coaches, colleagues, and friends who have an independent perspective and can give leaders straight truth they need to hear.

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.” -Albert Einstein

Beyond Analytical thinking

One of the most challenging but important ideas about management and leadership involves understanding the relationships between stakeholders. Stakeholders are often seen as separate groups, each pursuing their own interests. This type of thinking ignores the relationships stakeholders have with the business and with each other. However, business is ultimately about relationships, interconnectedness, shared purpose, and shared values that the various stakeholders of the business co-create and coevolve together.

Analytical intelligence (IQ) (dividing things up into parts and analyzing them) tends to see stakeholders as separate entities motivated primarily by self-interest therefore, being likely to have frequent conflicts that require trade-offs when those self-interests differ from each other. Leaders have difficulty seeing the big, complex picture. An additional kind of intelligence is needed; without the ability to think with holistic systems intelligence, most of what conscious capitalism is about will not make sense to people. Stakeholders should be seen as successful integration of harmony and unity.

Systems Intelligence (SYQ)

Conscious leaders tend to have high level of SYQ. They see the bigger picture and understand how different components of the system interconnect and behave over time. They anticipate the immediate as well as long-term consequences of actions. They understand the roots of problems and how the problems relate to organizational design. They create fundamental solutions instead of applying symptomatic quick fixes. Conscious leaders are also feelers; they feel the interconnectedness and oneness of the system within their being, thus, preventing many problems from occurring in the first place. This capacity is well illustrated by a story from Bian Que, a Chinese physician from 2300 years ago.

It is about three brothers, all doctors. The oldest was known for performing dramatic procedures on patients whose diseases had reached an advanced stage, and he was widely celebrated for his heroic efforts to save his patients. The middle brother was highly skilled at catching and curing diseases when they exhibited early symptoms: he was considered good for treating minor ailments and was admired only locally. The third brother had the ability to detect the earliest trace of a disease and cure it before the patient felt any symptoms at all. He was little appreciated and virtually unknown but he saved many more lives tham his more famous brothers.

The best leaders are those who prevent most problems from arising in the first place; their genius may go unrecognized and even unrewarded, but they are the most effective leaders, with keenly develop systems minds and sensibilities.

Cultivating Systems Intelligence 

Servant Leadership 

Conscious leaders are aware of the importance of service in helping their organizations realize their highest potential. They also know that helping others leads to more personal happiness. This is the secret of helpers high: we feel good when we make other people happy. It creates value for the giver and the recipient as well as for the larger community. Conscious leaders embrace transpersonal values – justice, truth, love, relief of suffering, inspiration and helping enlightenment of others – that lift them to higher levels of consciousness.


Integrity goes beyond being honest and telling the truth; it is about authenticity, fairness, trustworthiness, moral courage. It involves doing what we believe is true to our values and the right thing to do whatever the circumstances, even when it may involve substantial personal cost. Integrity is neither common nor exceptionally common in life. Everyone should unify his or her own values and virtues and express them within the context or the larger community, including where they work. Famous historical leaders with high integrity include Socrates, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. These leaders have inspired us with their high integrity and especially with their expression of moral courage.

Capacity for love and care 

Conscious leaders have a great capacity for love and care. Real power comes from combining intellectual abilities with their ability to care for things beyond themselves. Fear is the opposite of love. An organization suffused with fear is inherently less capable of real creativity and innovation. Fearful people are hyperalert, defensive and purely self-interested. Conscious leaders recognize how important it is to drive fear out of their organizations.

I think intelligence is pretty fucking sexy.” – Anonymous


Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey & Raj Sisodia (2013)

“There is no more powerful source of creative energy in the world than a turned-on, empowered human being. ” – John Mackey

The text is mostly derived from this article by Cindy Wigglesworth.


Spiritual intelligence is critical for personal growth and authentic leadership. The community, family, global and business leaders of the future will be those who are quickest to recognize this fact and begin to measure and cultivate the skills of spiritual intelligence in themselves and their organisations. Who are your spiritual heroes – those people you would think of as exemplary human beings? What characteristics do you admire in them? We tend to admire people who have high integrity and are courageous, loving, calm, visionary, selfless, inspiring and making a difference. Think about this for yourself. Make your own list of those you consider to be especially noble, and why. This is a great starting point for becoming an exemplar yourself. Spiritual intelligence is an essential component of both personal and professional development as we access the voice of our higher self and let it drive our lives.

There is an undeniable connection between the personal and the professional, between the inner life of the self and the outer world of effectiveness and impact. Your personal development changes you. Further, who you are ultimately determines how you lead. We are all leaders and role models regardless of our jobs, to everyone we interact with. Deep, authentic leadership requires that we lead ourselves first. We do the spiritual weightlifting to develop a deep inner self-awareness and compassion for the world around us. We build the multiple intelligences we need: mental intelligence (IQ) and the related technical skills; emotional intelligence (EQ); physical intelligence (PQ), or good body management; and spiritual intelligence (SQ).

Mental intelligence is mathematical and verbal skills. EQ is the ability to recognize one’s own and other people’s emotions and use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Physical intelligence is a foundational skill we all practice every day: put very simply, when we don’t take care of our bodies, everything else suffers. PQ can be defined as “body awareness and skillful use” A simple example of poor PQ is allowing yourself to be continually sleep-deprived. Mental, emotional, and spiritual functioning diminishes along with stamina and health.

Spiritual intelligence can be defined as the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation. SQ development is about moving from immature ego-driven behaviours to more mature higher self-driven behaviors. How do we do that? We develop the ability to hear the voice of our higher self, to understand and transcend the voice of our ego, and to be guided by deep wisdom and compassion. IQ and EQ support us as we develop the skillful means to deploy our noblest intention. The ego matures and nuanced forms of more effective leadership develop. With more SQ comes less drama and more impact.

Here’s one quick tip you can practice right away: Learn to be quiet. In the stillness you can observe deeply. Notice when your body and mind are feeling nervous. Hear the voice of your ego and its fears. Love your ego – it is valuable. But know that it is also a drama queen. It needs guidance and balance. Hold your noble heroes in mind and ask your higher self for guidance. What is the wise and compassionate action to take today in this situation? What is in the highest and best interest of all players — including me, my co-workers, friends, family, company, society, and the planet? From this quiet place, you can act with SQ.


The more you trust your intuition, the more empowered you become, the stronger you become, and the happier you become.” – Gisele Bundchen, whom I personally think as one of my spiritual heroes. This lady has got intelligence on multiple levels.

Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.

“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck, your profession is what you’re put here on earth to do, with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.”

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Spiritual Intelligence

Spiritual Intelligence is the intelligence with which we access our deepest meanings, values, purposes and higher motivations. It is the intelligence with which we exercise goodness, truth, beauty and compassion in our lives. It helps us to discover our own personal higher purposes in our work and our lives. Conscious leaders have ability to help align their organizations with their higher purposes.

Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, serves as a great example of high spiritual intelligence. Starbucks went through difficult time in 2008 when its business declined. It had 600 underperforming stores, having to eliminate 12 000 jobs and take a $340 million asset write-off for the closed stores. Schultz believed that Starbucks had moved away from its higher purpose and had gotten off track by just chasing after growth and financial returns. This happened over several years after he had stepped down as the CEO. He decided to return to Starbucks as the CEO to reconnect the company to its core purpose. “It was time to return to the intimacy of communicating directly with our people.” After Schultz returned and recommitted Starbucks to its core purpose and its sense of authenticity, the company experienced an extreme increase in turnaround; same-store sales accelerated from negative to 6% in fiscal 2009 to positive 8% in 2011, net profits more than tripled and the value of the stock increased from about $7 to more than $50 over three years. Note: After brief glimpse to Starbuck’s stock price in NASDAQ, I see that the company indeed has been steadily increasing it’s share price during the past 5 years despite the challenging economic times.




Danah Zohar defined 12 principles underlying spiritual intelligence:

  • 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 or 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

Personally, I couldn’t agree more with these spiritual leadership gurus John Mackey and Danah Zohar. A leader is able to live by and align his/her personal values and higher purpose with the organization’s higher purpose and values for effective leadership.  We humans have so much creativity and passion if we just take the time to listen to our inner guide. Once we discover our purpose, life becomes meaningful on a new level. Once we start fulfilling our higher purpose, our days suddenly become filled with passion, joy excitement and constant flow of discovering more about the beautiful world and other creatures in it.



Conscious Capitalism, John Mackey & Raj Sisodia