The Regenesys International Leadership Development Programme (ILDP) is a wonderful opportunity for mid-career executives to explore not only the outer world but also their inner world. A hallmark of the International Leadership Development Programme is the opportunity for delegates to improve their mastery by understanding and applying spiritual intelligence.

We are all familiar with the concept of cognitive intelligence, which is what we refer to when we talk about someone’s IQ. But there is another intelligence, one which is essential for anyone who wishes to be a true leader. And this is spiritual intelligence or SQ. Spiritual intelligence expands your capacity to understand others at the deepest level. But to understand spiritual intelligence, we must first explore other intelligences. These are key to developing the future leaders who emerge from our unique programme.


Understanding different intelligences.

According to Stephen Covey (1994), people are composed of four core dimensions: physical (health, physical ability), mental (intellectual intelligence), emotional (feelings) and spiritual (purpose, meaning, values). Each of these dimensions is integral to the well-being of individuals. If one dimension is unbalanced, it negatively affects the other dimensions. For example, if individuals neglect physical health by consistently not eating a well-balanced diet, they could experience emotional fluctuations, which could affect their ability to concentrate and assimilate information, which in turn could influence the choices they make and their sense of purpose and meaning.

Each core dimension is directed by its corresponding intelligence, namely spiritual intelligence (SQ), emotional intelligence (EQ), mental intelligence (IQ) and physical intelligence (PQ) (Covey, 2004). See Figure 1. The effective application of these personal intelligences will contribute to fostering balance in these core dimensions. Personal mastery involves ensuring that individuals’ core dimensions are developed in a holistic and integrated manner.

Figure 1: Dimensions and Corresponding Intelligences of an Individual

Mental intelligence (IQ) is the intelligence required to solve logical and strategic problems (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). Cognitive competencies related to mental intelligence involve being able to reason, think logically, analyse and prioritise (Mishra and Vashist, 2014). Many organisations before the 1990s emphasised mental intelligence, recruiting individuals based on their cognitive abilities and believing that people with higher mental intelligence were better managers (Robbins, Judge, Odendaal and Roodt, 2009).

Although mental intelligence is a necessary ingredient for work performance, it is not the only factor. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the intelligence used to “recognise, understand, regulate and effectively use emotions in our lives” (De Klerk and Le Roux, 2003:8). Research conducted in the 1990s showed that emotional intelligence is more important for leaders than mental intelligence (Müller and Turner, 2010). This is because leaders who apply emotional intelligence are better at securing the cooperation and support of team members than leaders who only apply mental intelligence. Mental intelligence is an important component for organisations because it influences whether employees or managers can perform their roles and responsibilities.

Why spiritual intelligence is important for leaders

Relying solely on mental intelligence as an indicator of workplace performance has been challenged by research showing that leaders with higher emotional intelligence tend to be more effective than leaders who possess technical skills (Lam and O’Higgins, 2012). Some studies show that “IQ alone only explains 4-10 per cent of achievement at work” and emotional intelligence is twice as important as mental intelligence for positions at all levels in an organisation (Lam and O’Higgins, 2012:150).

Covey (2004:53) maintains that spiritual intelligence is the “central and most fundamental of all the intelligences” because it guides all the other intelligences (physical intelligence, emotional intelligence, and mental intelligence). Unlike the other personal intelligences, spiritual intelligence enables individuals to bridge the gap between the intrapersonal and interpersonal, because it assists individuals to understand their deepest purpose and meaning (Zohar and Marshall, 2000). Spiritual intelligence also contributes to transcending one’s ego, which means that interactions with others are based on positive values such as generosity, respect, and compassion (George, 2006).

Step 1: Determine your core purpose

The first step is to determine your core purpose. Spiritual intelligence enables us to develop deep insights about ourselves so that we can reach our highest aspirations and purpose (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). Cashman (1998:64) defines purpose as “how we express ourselves to add value”. It is about “finding your essence or calling in life” (Cashman 1998:79). This implies that all our actions should reflect what our core purpose is. Living authentically therefore occurs if there is congruence between our core purpose and our actions.

Secondly, purpose through our actions should add value. Adding value implies that we make some sort of difference. To determine the type of difference that you intend to make, it is helpful to determine the values that are aligned to your purpose and are important to you. Expressing our core purpose enables us to also reflect the values that are important to us. The existence of meaning and purpose is an essential element for transcending problems, social circumstances, and adversity. Cashman (1998) argues that people with a clear purpose and meaning in their lives can transcend their problems (say, from a social background of poverty and abuse) to become educated and successful. But others from the same background who lack purpose and meaning go into a vicious spiral of despair, such as drug use and crime.

The characteristics of purpose are as follows (Cashman, 1998):

  • Purpose goes beyond your profession or career. Your purpose guides you to select a career or profession that will enable you to live out your purpose. But your purpose should be expressed in all areas of your life and not only in your career;
  • Purpose is the foundation on which you build your life. It is deeper and broader than your goals. Purpose is a life-long process of discovery. Unlike a goal that can be achieved, having a purpose requires us to live this purpose constantly in the present and future; and
  • Purpose creates value. Purpose enables us to serve others through using our talents and gifts.

Step 2: Prioritise core values

The next step is to identify and prioritise your core values. Values are the premise from which we operate as our decisions and behaviours reflect the values that we support (Chapman, 2002). Values are formed in our formative years and influence our

actions unconsciously (Vermeulen, 1999). Values “are so deeply rooted that we respond to them without even being aware of what’s driving us. But we need to know consciously what they are because we only feel satisfied when our decisions are aligned to our deepest values” (Vermeulen 1999:120).

Values can assist in understanding a person’s behaviour because they are influenced and are reflected in that person’s behaviour (Van Hattem et al, 2013). An important aspect of values is authenticity, where an individual’s behaviour is congruent with his or her espoused values. Incongruence between the espoused value and behaviour often results in a breakdown of trust and credibility.

Step 3: Uncover beliefs

A key aspect of SQ is gaining insight into our beliefs. Beliefs are important because we become what we believe (Cashman, 1998; Shapiro, 2005; Saravanja, 2006; Vermeulen, 1999, Williams, 2005). Beliefs are convictions that have been shaped by our values, experiences, and thoughts.

Beliefs are extremely powerful, as they inform decisions and behaviour and hence can create or transform reality (Shapiro, 2005). Beliefs can assist individuals to shift their focus away from living their purpose and values. SQ is therefore required to develop a deep awareness of self.

There are two types of beliefs, namely conscious and shadow beliefs. Conscious beliefs are beliefs that can be articulated by others and ourselves. For example: “I believe in treating people with respect and soliciting feedback from people to make decisions”; “there is no gain without pain”; “women are better at multi-tasking than men”; “I am competitive”.

Shadow beliefs are unconscious and limiting beliefs that people do not want to face (Howard and Welbourn, 2004). Shadows are not obvious and are difficult to identify because our defences attempt to protect us from these painful areas. Jung first coined the notion of “shadows” as those beliefs that are the “manifestation of hidden, unexplored, or unresolved psychological dynamics” (Cashman 1998:37). For example, “I am not good enough; I can always do better; I might fail; I need to be perfect; life is stressful; I will never be rich; I will never find my perfect partner; I must suffer to succeed; I will always be fat.”

Shadow beliefs

Many desired goals, plans and projects are sabotaged by our shadow beliefs. These shadow beliefs often override conscious beliefs and create the reality of the shadow belief. For example, some senior executives after achieving financial success and respect in the workplace for their contributions feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled because of a shadow belief that they “are not good enough” or “always need to be better”.

Regardless of their professional and financial achievements, they feel that their achievements are insufficient, and they must accomplish more to receive approval from others. Therefore, unless these shadow beliefs are brought to the surface and transformed, they will manifest a reality of the shadow, which is contrary to a desired reality.

Cashman (1998) identifies seven indicators that can help you bring hidden beliefs to the surface.

You know shadow beliefs exist and are limiting when:

  1. People provide you with feedback about yourself that is contrary to how you see yourself.

Example: Your colleagues praise you for your excellent work, but you feel that it could be

better. A shadow of “I’m not good enough”, “I can always do better” or “It has to be perfect “could be limiting you from moving on from the project to work on another one.

  1. You feel stuck or unsure about what to do next.

Example: You are miserable at work because of the long hours you put in. Even though your manager says there is no need to work such long hours, you feel that you simply cannot complete all your work without working additional hours. You are at a loss about what to do. A shadow of “work has to be suffering”, or at a deeper level, “I am not good enough and have to work off my guilt to feel self-worth”, could be keeping you from moving on.

  1. Some strengths become counterproductive.

Example: You are an excellent organiser with the ability to complete things on time. But of late you have noticed that people are complaining that you are micro-managing them and not allowing them the space to test their ideas. A shadow belief of “I need to always be in control”, or “Other people can’t do it as well as I can”, could be preventing you from harnessing your strengths fully.

  1. You are not open to new information, new learning, or views of other people.

Example: Your manager suggests that you attend a management-training programme offered to all managers. You decline, as you feel that you have attended many of these management courses and they do not seem to offer anything new. A shadow belief of “I am afraid of failing if I try new things”, or “If I open up myself to learning, others will realise that I don’t have all the skills and knowledge”, might prevent you from developing yourself.

  1. You react to circumstances with an emotional response disproportionate to the situation.

Example: You are not coping at work because of an increasing workload. Regardless of what you say to your manager about your inability to cope, she seems to dump more work on your desk. You are exasperated and ask a friend for advice. Your friend smiles lovingly and tells you gently that you are a pushover and can be easily manipulated. You feel hurt and betrayed by your friend. Instead of supporting you, she is judging you. Shadow beliefs of “I have to comply with others to gain approval”, “I am a victim” or “my self-worth depends

on how people see me” may be getting you to do things against your will.

  1. You find yourself responding or reacting forcefully to the limitations of others in a critical,

judgemental way.

Example: You are a manager. You feel that your staff is not as competent and efficient as they should be. They produce work that does not meet deadlines and requires extensive fixing. You reprimand them all in a meeting, picking out all mistakes they make. You tell them that their performance is disappointing, and they should be able to produce better work, given their qualifications. Shadow beliefs of “I am superior to others”, or “No one can produce better work than me”, may be preventing you from seeing the value of the work of others.

  1. You experience pain, trauma, or discomfort in your body.

Physical illnesses are symptoms of mental or spiritual imbalances (Shapiro, 2005). Therefore, uncovering the shadow can give you clues about how to address the cause of the imbalance.

Example: You suffer from severe backache. Your doctor attributes it to working on the computer for prolonged periods, coupled with insufficient exercise. However, even though you change your work position, take regular breaks and exercise regularly, your backache persists. Shadow beliefs such as “I don’t feel supported”, “I feel overloaded”, or “I am being let down”, could be the cause of the back problems (Shapiro, 2005).

Most of us recognise these shadow beliefs within ourselves. It is normal and a result of our conditioning. Before the process of transforming our shadow beliefs begins it is important to gain awareness of what our specific shadow beliefs are, and how they affect what we do.

Step 4: Change beliefs

Williams (2005) postulates that there are two attitudes to approaching the undoing of conditioning or altering of beliefs. Firstly, by feeling like a victim and using them to blame the way we are, or to use them to heal.

Changing beliefs is simpler than most people think. However, it does require daily practice rather than a once-off effort. No matter how painful some of the beliefs may be, a part of us might find it difficult to let go of them, because they served a purpose, albeit a negative one.

Principles of developing effective supportive and helpful beliefs

Because beliefs become reality, the way they are phrased is crucial. Beliefs should be phrased with consideration for the following principles.

  • Present tense – beliefs should be phrased in the present tense. Beliefs must be phrased in the present tense so that you experience them in the present and not the future. For example, if your belief is “I want to be successful in my career”, then you will not experience being successful in the present, because you are visualising a thought that is always in the future – i.e., you are focusing on a state of wanting rather than of being. Instead, your belief should be rephrased, as “I am successful in my career”.
  • Positive statements – beliefs should be positive statements, rather than expressed as a negative statement. For example, “I am successful”, instead of “I am not a failure”. When we repeat the statement “I am not a failure”, our brains tend to focus on keywords, such as “failure”. Ironically, the reality of being a failure is created instead of not being a failure.
  • Short and specific – beliefs should be short and specific so that they are easy to remember and visualise.

Four simple steps to develop supportive and helpful beliefs

  1. Identify the conscious and shadow beliefs.
  2. Replace shadow beliefs with supportive and helpful beliefs, following the principles above.
  3. Daily and regular repetition of the new belief so that it replaces the old beliefs.
  4. Find and replace new shadows if you feel resistance when you repeat the new belief.

Step 5: Solve problems using principles and skills of spiritual intelligence

Problems that require spiritual intelligence are often recurring, and ones that could involve an ethical dilemma. These problems are generally complex in that they might affect several people and dimensions in an organisation (strategy, structure, systems, and culture). While mental intelligence (analytical and logical thinking) and emotional intelligence (effectively managing relationships) are often required to solve problems, spiritual intelligence helps people to resolve issues from a different perspective.

Relying on spiritual resources to resolve problems assist individuals to cope with extremely difficult challenges, finding meaning in these conditions and experiencing growth (Emmons, 2000). This perspective is attained by applying the principles and skills of spiritual intelligence.


Individuals should exercise self-awareness to determine their actions on others and reflect on their purpose and values, inner thoughts and motivations, and worldview (Wigglesworth, 2006; Zohar and Marshall, 2004). The intention is to develop an honest impression about oneself as possible, without assigning judgment or blame.

Core purpose and values

Zohar and Marshall (2004) refer to core purpose and values as being “vision and value-led”. Identifying and living according to a core purpose and values form the bedrock of spiritual intelligence. Identifying and replacing shadow or limiting beliefs contributes to removing obstacles and resistance to change. These crucial steps should be applied to help individuals to make decisions, solve problems and create new ideas. The process of living one’s purpose and values, and committing to growing spiritually, involves the process of self-mastery (Wigglesworth, 2006).


Compassion falls into the social mastery quadrant because that quadrant concerns making wide and compassionate decisions (Wigglesworth, 2006). A critical component of resolving problems is forgoing the need to be right always. Covey (2004) stresses the importance of thinking of synergy and a win-win solution. Compassion involves being concerned about others and considering their feelings about decisions that affect them (Zohar and Marshall, 2004).

Celebration of diversity

Daspit, Timan, Boyd and McKee (2013) argue that people from diverse backgrounds contribute unique perspectives, which helps teams to be innovative and solve problems effectively. Explore the views of a wide range of people before deciding (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). Soliciting opinions and solutions from individuals who come from diverse backgrounds will enrich the analysis and solving of problems.

Field independence

Solving complex problems often requires strength of character, especially when difficult and unpopular decisions must be made. People tend to buckle under pressure of wanting to remain popular instead of acting by their core purpose and values. Field independence involves making decisions that might be unpopular but will be to the benefit of others and the organisation (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). This spiritual intelligence principle relies on courage and the ability to see the bigger picture.

Tendency to ask ‘Why?’ questions

Identifying the root causes of problems is an important step in problem-solving. This ensures that root causes are addressed, instead of symptoms. Asking “Why?” enables individuals to determine root causes. In addition to finding the root causes of problems, you should identify patterns that underpin the problems (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). These patterns could highlight limiting beliefs that form part of the root causes of the problem.


Effective problem-solving involves seeing a problem from a different perspective. Reframing an issue, by viewing it from a wider perspective and shifting out of comfort zones, contributes to letting go of approaches that have not worked in the past (Zohar and Marshall, 2004).


Problem-solving requires creative and innovative thinking. Being spontaneous by being willing to experiment and take risks, having fun and exploring ideas that may appear crazy, all foster creativity and imagination (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). Listen to your intuition to help you to solve problems.

A sense of vocation

If work is seen as a vocation, individuals will feel inspired and passionate about what they do and how their work can help others. Individuals will want to go the extra mile to strive for excellence (Zohar and Marshall, 2004). Develop a sense of vocation so that you are inspired to resolve problems and regard them as opportunities to contribute to the greater good.

Having a clear purpose helps individuals to develop a sense of vocation or service.


Humility is one of the key distinguishing principles of spiritual intelligence because it focuses on giving acknowledgement to others instead of striving for self-recognition. Zohar and Marshal (2004) regard humility as a transformative principle because it allows people to learn from mistakes when they criticise themselves. Humility is not being weak or having low self-esteem. Instead, it is a matter of being modest, without arrogance and pride (Fry and Kriger, 2009).

Step 6: Sustain the desired reality

Sustaining the desired reality involves applying the principles of spiritual intelligence consistently. It is easy for individuals to falter when applying spiritual intelligence principles because it requires constant effort and, in some cases, discomfort. Personal transformation is a challenging process because it often requires individuals to face unflattering thoughts and behaviours about themselves. Some individuals experience the process of self-awareness as so uncomfortable that they refrain from continuing the journey of personal mastery. Others embark on the journey of transformation but give up because it involves too much effort.

Deep learning on a personal level

Deep learning is required to ensure that living and applying the principles and skills of spiritual intelligence becomes ingrained and habitual. Deep learning involves replacing old, fixed patterns of behaviour and attitudes with new thoughts, behaviours, and attitudes (Bennet and Bennet, 2007).

Establish a conducive environment on an organisational level

For spiritual intelligence to become part of an organisation’s practice, it must be supported and driven by senior managers. The organisation’s strategy (vision, mission, and values statements) should promote the principles of spiritual intelligence. The organisational structure, systems and culture must be aligned to promote spiritual intelligence in the organisation. For example, an organisation could design its organisational structure so that it is not hierarchical and encourages interaction between departments.

The systems and processes, such as the human resources system, could recruit, nurture and

reward employees who are aligned with the purpose and values of the organisation. The organisational culture could actively promote and reward employees who live the espoused values.

In Conclusion

Hyson (2013) maintains that fostering spiritual intelligence in organisations requires creating an organizational culture that has the following principles:

  • Learning from the past by acknowledging both positive and negative experiences;
  • Understanding the present by identifying how people want to be treated and knowing their worst fears;
  • Planning the future by proposing what it would look like based on determining their three core values; and
  • Measuring progress and rewarding achievements.

The Regenesys International Leadership Development Programme is a once in a lifetime opportunity for personal growth.  It is a supportive, encouraging space to learn about business in other countries as well as an inner personal journey of discovery. This holistic as well as educational journey will result in participants of the course entering their existing organisations, or even new ones, with a fresh set of eyes, thought patterns, and ideas. This is the leader that business in the new world will need, and this is the leader Regenesys is aiming to mould through the International Leadership Development Programme.

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