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Your Spiritual Intelligence And Our Next New Normal

The year is 2022. American capitalism and the American workplace are in the throes of a reboot, whether we like it or not. How do we all intelligently understand and navigate, if not shape and lead our next new normal? We don’t need to overthink this – we begin with the way we see, think, and react. Let’s connect a few dots from the past, which point the way to how we at PartnershipEconomics foresee us all shaping and leading our next new normal.

Photo Credit: Greg Rakozy |

Adam Smith is best known for his second worldwide best seller, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. His first worldwide best seller, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, is practically unknown today. Could it have been possible for Adam Smith to write Wealth of Nations without writing from his perspectives of Moral Sentiments? No, we don’t think so either, which is why it’s past time to understand how Smith saw and thought about human empathy to really understand Wealth of Nations.

The Adam Smith Institute notes: "The Theory of Moral Sentiments was a real scientific breakthrough. … [As] social creatures, explains Smith, we are also endowed with a natural sympathy – today we would say empathy – toward others. ... Gradually, as we grow from childhood to adulthood, we each learn what is and is not acceptable to other people. Morality stems from our social nature." In other words, Smith understood empathy as key to human interactions, including our commerce and economies.

Building on Smith, whether intentionally or not, Abraham Maslow taught us to see and think about our hierarchy of needs. Maslow demonstrated that a person’s lower or basic needs build on themselves and have to be mostly satisfied (from physiological to safety and then belonging/love) before he or she is equipped to fully address the higher needs of self-esteem and then self-actualization. Maslow’s third need of belonging/love includes the skill of empathy and supports the higher needs. Why is empathy a touchstone to Smith and Maslow? Because, as we find in later pioneers, empathy is key to human intelligence.

Humans possess various kinds of intelligence. Beyond the familiar physical intelligence (PQ) and cognitive intelligence (IQ), Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatzis taught us to think about and act from our emotional intelligence (EQ). With its framework of four quadrants, EQ comprises eighteen skills that, like Maslow’s and Smith’s empathy, are inter-related. In the Goleman/Boyatzis framework, the second quadrant of social awareness specifies empathy and supports the higher quadrants of self-management and social skills. Connecting just those three intelligence pioneers from across the ages point us to an unexpected and mostly untapped resource we each possess. A resource critical to effectively creating the next new normal that benefits everyone who chooses to participate.

Spiritual intelligence (SQ), which is distinct and unrelated to the practice of religion or any faith tradition, is both foundational and capstone to all other intelligences. In her seminal book SQ21 engineer turned intelligence pioneer Cindy Wigglesworth penned a definition of SQ that resonates with the experiences of us here at PartnershipEconomics and seems universally acceptable: “The ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.”

Wigglesworth sees SQ as an integrating intelligence that “links and amplifies our rational and emotional capacities.” After extensively researching and testing the twenty-one skills that she identifies as comprising SQ, Wigglesworth contextualizes those skills into a framework of four quadrants similar to that developed for EQ. Those four quadrants in order are: Self/self Awareness, Universal Awareness, Self/self Mastery, and Social Mastery/Spiritual Presence. The second quadrant of Universal Awareness includes the skill of empathy, which connects Wigglesworth to Smith, Maslow, Goleman/Boyatzis, and legions of others.

EQ - SQ | Graphic Credit: Cindy Wigglesworth

Imagine being the leader, or working with the leader, who having developed his or her SQ is equipped with ‘the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.’ In our experience, that leader is considerate – his or her behavior springs from wisdom and compassion. That leader is also congruent – internally and externally at peace in their actions and decisions. And that leader is also consistent – wise and peaceful in situations that often include rapid change if not chaos. In other words, they are able to see, think, and act with higher intelligence. They are best equipped to shape and lead changing landscapes.

The spiritually informed leader also recognizes that everyone in the organization is fully human. To be fully human means to be on a spiritual journey, howbeit, some more than others by their choice. The spiritually informed leader has learned that for most if not everyone, our careers and workplaces are the primary context in which our spiritual journey plays out. Whether it’s intended or not and we like it or not, after leaving our formal schooling it’s the workplace – surrounded by our co-workers – that becomes the primary place where each of us is tested and prodded to further mature. To separate one's spirituality from one's career and workplace is a primary source of internal dissonance, which leads to frustration if not failure. For this reason alone, our next new normal has to recognize the reality that we need our work and the right organizations as much as our work and the right organizations need us.

At PartnershipEconomics we know spiritually informed leaders at every organizational level, and how especially pleasant it is for the organization when the spiritually informed leader is at the helm. The organization simply operates better by every metric. To recognize, build upon, and exercise your spiritual intelligence is the clearest path forward to effectively shaping and leading the next new normal that benefits our businesses, economy, and society as a whole. Nothing stops you from turning now – right now – to see, think, and begin to intentionally develop your SQ as intentionally as you do your PQ, IQ and EQ.

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