Hope – the leadership superpower: Ignite it with Spiritual Intelligence

As a leader, how are you responding or reacting to the challenges in the world today? If you are burnt out, exhausted, overwhelmed, and cynical, it is no wonder. (And as a leader, you likely try to keep these concerns secret.) Leading with hope can be your leadership superpower and cultivating your Spirtual Intelligence is key.

We see so many divides in our world: economic, social, ecological, ideological, and spiritual. We are in an unprecedented time of unpredictability and all predictions are that this hyper-complexity will only amplify and accelerate.

We have seen and experienced it on a macro scale with the recent pandemic, global economic issues, climate and ecosystem challenges, wars and political polarization. We call it a polycrisis. Interdependent problems and consequences have emerged from this, and we may be overwhelmed by the chaos that trickles (or floods) into our businesses, organizations and communities.

Honestly, I have struggled as well – trying to imagine what path will lead us up and out of the chaos. This bewilderment reminds me to tap into my spiritual intelligence skills and acknowledge a higher purpose in all this – even if it is unclear.

Hope – not delusion

I have hope – and I act in hope – not in a delusional, magical thinking pattern – but by tapping into my higher power to remain comfortable even in the chaos.

I understand the frightening and the powerful truth that everything is interconnected. It is frightening because negative actions and reactions of all of us ripple out into the world.  Similarly, we can send out positive ripples with conscious leadership and positive intention. How do we rise above with hope to continue to be effective even in the chaos?  We need to develop deep wisdom and compassion available through our spiritual intelligence to influence right where we are (and maybe we will be lucky enough to change the world).

What is spiritual intelligence? (Some people have an allergic reaction to the word “spiritual” but stay with me. We can unpack that another time.)

Spiritual Intelligence is “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation” (Wigglesworth, pp. 8-9).

I coach leaders and teams in Spiritual Intelligence (SQ), and it is the capstone intelligence superseding Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Cognitive Intelligence (IQ).  Sure, we can manage along for a while with our IQ and EQ, but Spiritual Intelligence amplifies those other intelligences and –  I dare say, without fostering Spiritual Intelligence our capacity for hope is diminished.

Without fostering our spiritual intelligence our capacity for hope is diminished.

In fact, one scholar asserts that hope is essential in exploring solutions to the polycrisis we see – and without hope, we cannot lead others on that path. (Homer-Dixon, 2023).

What does Spiritual Intelligence have to do with hope?

Certain skills of spiritual intelligence directly support hope. Here are just a few SQ skills that can help us cultivate hope.

  • Awareness of our life’s purpose
  • Awareness of our values
  • Complexity of inner thought
  • Awareness of the interconnectedness of life
  • Perception of the breadth of time and space
  • Keeping your higher self (or Spirit) in charge
  • Living your purpose and values
  • Sustaining faith in difficult times
  • Seeking guidance from spirit
  • Making wise and compassionate decisions
  • Being a calm and healing presence
  • Being aligned with the ebb and flow of life

For decades we have been conditioned to keep our spiritual selves and our work selves or our business selves separated. I am confident that this is exactly why we have all these great divides I wrote about at the beginning of this article. If you could authentically embrace some of the SQ skills listed above, would it transform how you operate inside and outside? How would  cultivating your spiritual intelligence impact the people you lead and the problems you want to solve or the transitions you want to make in your business and world?

If this gets you curious, I would love to talk to you! I have been in distraught and bewildered places in life and leadership. But I believe in possibility. As author Zander writes: “. . . our universe is alive with sparks. We have at our fingertips an infinite capacity to light a spark of possibility. Passion, rather than fear, is the igniting force. Abundance, rather than scarcity, is the context” (2002).

Homer-Dixon, T, (2023,05,30), Leadership in a Global Polycrisis, Royal Roads University.

Wigglesworth, Cindy. SQ21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence (pp. 8-9). SelectBooks, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Zander, Rosamund Stone; Zander, Benjamin. The Art of Possibility (pp. 125-126). Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle Edition.

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