In my last blog, I briefly explained the interaction between SQ, EQ and IQ. This time, we will look at the spiritual quotient and why it is the core of leadership.
I realize that at this point you might be sceptical, perhaps smiling, maybe even laughing. Well, read on and we will see if we can get this dialogue between my ideas and your mind and heart going! My goal is that you will see that the spiritual quotient is a necessary and suffient condition of great leadership.
First, however, we must define the word spiritual. According to Webster’s, the word is derived from the latin word spiritualis meaning of breathing or of wind. So depending on your life views, what I have to say about this topic may be as important as the air you breathe … or it may be a lot of hot air! In any case, the words spiritual and spirituality are not part of the traditional lingua franca of business schools, for as Bolman and Deal have pointed out, spirituality is often associated with religion and is, therefore, an uncomfortable topic to discuss openly in society. Cultural norms across the globe are quite unanimous in that religion and spirituality are private matters. Coupled with this is that universities have traditionally attempted to provide students with value-free knowledge based on positivistic traditions – which clearly conflicts with the norms of many religions around the globe. Spirituality and the spiritual quotient can include a discussion of religious matters such as faith, hope and love, but must not. I accept the fact that many people cannot have such discussions void of God or a higher being. Before we know how to interact with with others (that is the next part of the series on the emotional quotient), a real self-awareness takes deep look at our truest drivers – and these are based on our world-views, beliefs and values and therefore our life-mission.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: ‘Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.’ That is what we are doing in the St. Gallen MBA. Before students arrive in St. Gallen, they will be asked to take the LIFO Personal Style Survey – a straightforward way for people to learn more about how they prefer to do things. This is a tool that our students can use to have a better self-awareness of their preferred way of dealing with the world around them as well as a base for their coaching sessions. Once students arrive in St. Gallen, we ask them to complete a very personal Visions and Values Essay which is the second ingredient to our personal and career development program. Students are given three weeks to answer such questions as:
- What legacy do you want to leave behind? What will remain or continue as a result of your life after you die?
- Identify your top 15 values out of a list of 51. Now, from this list of 15, identify 10 that are most important to you. Now, identify the top 5 out of these 10. Rank these final 5 in terms of importance to you.
- List 131 things you would like to do or experience before you die. List any common themes.
- You just won $100 million in the lottery. Explain what will change in your life as a result of this.
- Project yourself into January 1, 2021. Develop the image of what you hope and dream your life will be on this day.
- Imagine that you are free from all personal, social, and financial responsibilities in your current life for one year. How will you spend this year?
- What is the meaning of life for you?
I encourage others to find themselves and be more of that person. Personal authenticity and genuineness are universal leadership characteristics. Answering questions such as I listed above can be a daunting experience because it often requires us to go far beyond our natural comfort levels in order to do so. It is very personal and deeply intimate, not to mention valuable, to go through this process – and to revisit it again and again over time. In the end, we all want and need to know our meaning and purpose in a firm or organization – and even this world.
In St. Gallen, we are investing in this journey together with our students because we know and believe something quite important: women and men who know themselves, who can articulate their beliefs, values, world-views and visions are more effective leaders.
It starts here! It starts with you!