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Here is soemthing food for thought for all of us.

We all talk of IQ and EQ in interviews, selection, performance evaluation etc etc.

But what about SQ - Spiritual Quotient?

Here is an excerpt from Danah Zohar's book - Spiritual Intelligence-the ultimate intelligence.

Read and let us debate on whether this is to be considered necessary for organisations, HR etc or shall we ignore this saying that it is too utopian?


Danah Zohar in her latest book 'Spiritual Intelligence-the ultimate intelligence' rightly points out that development of IQ (Intelligece Quotient) or EQ (Emotional-Quotient) is not enough, SQ- (spiritual quotient) is very important for ultimate success and fulfillment in life. To illustrate she gives a beautiful example.

An American businessman was standing on the jetty of a Mexican coastal village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large yellowfintuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it had taken to catch them.

The Mexican replied, 'Only a little while.'

The American then inquired why he didn't stay out longer and catch more fish.

The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.

The American then asked, ' But what do you do with the rest of your time?'

The Mexican Said, ' I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, Senor.'

The American scoffed, ' I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York, where you would run your expanding enterprise.'

The Mexican fisherman asked, 'But Senor, how long would this take?'

To which the American replied, 'Fifteen to twenty years.'

'But what then, Senor?'

The American laughed and said that was the best part. 'When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.'

'Millions, Senor? Then What?'

The American said, 'Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evening where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.'


Commenting on this example, Danah Zohar states further that:


"We can easily see that the American businessman in this story is spiritually dumb, while the Mexican fisherman is spiritually intelligent.


The fisherman has an intelligent sense of his own deep life's purposes, his own deepest motivations. He has evolved a lifestyle that meets his own and his family's needs, he takes time for the things that matter to him, he is at peace, he is centered.

The American businessman, on the other hand, is a child of his own spiritually damb culture. He is driven, he has to achieve for the sake of achievement, he is out of touch with those things in life that deeply motivate someone like the fisherman, he has absorbed goals that make no sense just because he learned them at Harvard. The fisherman will most likely live a long life and die at peace. The businessman is set for a coronary at fifty-five and will die feeling he never achieved his goal."


Note the sentence "achieve for teh sake of achievement"!!!!

Don't many of us do this atleast once in a while?

Best Regards


From India, Madras
Dear Bala,

Thank you for raising an interesting issue. I am giving below a summary of the salient points involved in all 3 areas for the benefit of all.

Spiritually Intelligent Leadership

A vision is something we reach for, something we aspire to, something that is the glue of our enterprise, the driving force, the vitality within it. When we are touched by a vision, our deepest values come into play and we have a sense of abiding purpose to our enterprise. In our world today, the thing we are most lacking is leaders who can convey vision.

One reason that visionary leadership is in short supply today is the value our society places on one particular kind of capital--material capital. Too often the worth or value of an enterprise is judged by how much money it earns at the end of the day, or how much worldly power it gives us over others. This obsession with material gain has led to short-term thinking and the narrow pursuit of self-interest. It is true that any kind of enterprise we want to engage in requires some kind of financial wealth if it is to succeed in the short term. But for leadership to inspire long-term, sustainable enterprises, it needs to pursue two other forms of capital as well: social and spiritual. These three types of capital resemble the layers in a wedding cake. Material capital is the top layer, social capital lies in the middle, and spiritual capital rests on the bottom, supporting all three.

According to political economist Francis Fukuyama, who wrote Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Wealth, social capital can be measured by the amount of trust in a society, empathy people feel for each other, and commitment to the health of the community. The health of the community, he says, can be measured by criteria such as the rate of crime, divorce, illiteracy, and litigation.

A New Paradigm of Intelligence

Leaders build all three forms of capital--material, social, and spiritual--by using their own intelligence. But here I am not just referring to IQ. I want to include the intelligence of the mind, the heart, and the spirit. I have written a great deal about the types of intelligence that correlate to the three types of capital:

• IQ, or intelligence quotient, was discovered in the early 20th century and is tested using the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales. It refers to our rational, logical, rule-bound, problem-solving intelligence. It is supposed to make us bright or dim. It is also a style of rational, goal-oriented thinking. All of us use some IQ, or we wouldn't be functional.

• EQ refers to our emotional intelligence quotient. In the mid-1990s, in Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, Daniel Goleman articulated the kind of intelligence that our heart, or emotions, have. EQ is manifested in trust, empathy, self-awareness, and self-control, and in the ability to respond appropriately to the emotions of others. It's a sense of where people are coming from; for example, if a boss or colleague seems to have had a fight at home before coming into the office that morning, it's not the best time to ask for a pay raise or put a new idea across.

• SQ, our spiritual intelligence quotient, underpins IQ and EQ. Spiritual intelligence is an ability to access higher meanings, values, abiding purposes, and unconscious aspects of the self and to embed these meanings, values, and purposes in living a richer and more creative life. Signs of high SQ include an ability to think out of the box, humility, and an access to energies that come from something beyond the ego, beyond just me and my day-to-day concerns. SQ is the ultimate intelligence of the visionary leader. It was the intelligence that guided men and women like Churchill, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa. The secret of their leadership was their ability to inspire people, to give them a sense of something worth struggling for.

12 Principles of Spiritually Intelligent Leadership

BELIEVE that all human beings are born with the capacity to use all three intelligences to some measure, because each contributes toward survival. A leader may be strong in one and weak in others, but each can be nurtured and developed. Spiritually intelligent leadership can be fostered by applying 12 principles:

• 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; seeing problems in a 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

Each one of us is a conscious complex adaptive system, both physically and mentally. Any great enterprise on which we hope to embark will have flexible boundaries and be in constant creative dialogue with its environment. As I describe the properties of conscious complex adaptive systems, I am also describing the qualities of great, spiritually intelligent leadership, underpinned by vision, purpose, meaning, and values.

Changing Human Behavior

IN Business Dynamics: Systems Thinking and Modeling for a Complex World, John Sterman provides a blueprint for how to make a system work effectively. But, he points out, only if the people in a system behave as they should will the system work as it should. Most systems have the same failing--human behavior.

If we want to change systems, we have to change human behavior. But human behavior is not so easily changed. To achieve real transformation, we have to change the motivations that drive behavior. That is the prime responsibility of a visionary leader. Today business, politics, education, and society in general are driven by four negative motivations: fear, greed, anger, and self-assertion. When we are controlled by these negative emotions, we trust both ourselves and others less, and we tend to act from a small place inside ourselves.

We can change our motivations to more positive ones if inspired to do so. A leader practicing the 12 principles of SQ can provide that inspiration and the energy it unleashes. I use the analogy of a pinball machine to explain attractors, a concept from chaos theory. Attractors are points that either collect energy or disperse it. In a pinball machine, the attractors are the little pits into which the steel balls fall. Our motivations are like these pits, and the steel balls are our behaviors. If you want to move the balls in a pinball machine, you pull back the spring and shoot another ball into the system, causing everything to fly and relocate.

Pumping spiritual intelligence into our motivational system works the same way. It knocks the balls out of their current motivational pockets and allows them to relocate. In this way, when we apply the 12 principles of spiritual transformation to our collaborations and our lives, self-assertion becomes exploration, anger becomes cooperation, craving becomes self-control, fear becomes mastery, and so forth. Our motivations have been raised and this changes our behavior. As our behavior changes, our results change, as well as the whole purpose and meaning of our collaborations.

People may accuse us of being naively hopeful to think that great leadership is possible and that it can make the world a better place. But I believe in "knights," and their power to channel spiritual intelligence. I close with a credo I have written for would-be knights of business:Summary of Ideas expressed by Dr.Danar Zohar



From Sri Lanka, Kolonnawa
Thanks Prof Lakshman for the excellent overall view on the subject.
A definitely educating view from you, Sir.
I have certain fundamental queries as follows:
1. How many of the managements have thought of SQ?
2. Does the industry captains including Managers think that SQ is something we need not look at and (as I stated earlier) is too utopian?
3. Is SQ relevant at all in this 'dog eat dog' killingly competitive world?

From India, Madras
Dear Bala,

Very pertient questions. In fact I notice from your postings about inner development, qualities, meditation etc that you value the enculteration of the inner person as opposed to the outer show that goes on in trying to pretend or display fake chratceristics suited to various occasions.

many in industry have no time or patience it takes for inner transformation , and in fact a transcendence to a higher dimension. This is the era of "quickies". We look for instant gratifications including quick marriages that result in quick divorces. Companies are also run by such individuals who have no values, a personal vision or mission and have not tapped their latent reserves. They look for quick remedies and that is why many lack strategic plans.

So we are living in a world that will always contain opposites. Good and the bad will continue to intensify. We in HR as custodians of values have a greater role at this point in history to bring about this transformation. HR needs to go beyound its comfort zone and consider holistic development that will lay a foundation for better living, individually, socially and finally globally.

Here is something you may like to reflect on- Value of Character

Mark Twain once remarked that everyone talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. Human character can seem a little like that - familiar but vaguely beyond our grasp. There is no higher praise we can give a person than to say they have good character. But what, really does that mean? What makes this quality so essential to achieving personal success and fulfillment? More important, how can we build our own character and live more satisfying lives?

In this article I will explain a perspective on the meaning of character and place a call for greater cultivation in ourselves, in our co-workers, in our neighbors, and in our children.

Suppose for a moment that YOU were responsible for picking a principal for your kid's school, an executive to run one of your companies, a pastor to lead your church, or a coach to teach your little leaguers, what one exceptional characteristic would this person absolutely have to possess? Would it be good-looking, Ivy League education, athletic, good negotiator, sharp dresser, creative mind... or would it be extraordinary character?

My guess is a solid character would head that list. When we have to relate to, work with, and depend upon someone, nothing is more important than personal ethical virtues like honor, reliability, trustworthiness, and kindness.

More than 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus accurately stated that "character is destiny." History is largely known to us through the acts, thoughts and spoken words of great heroes whose character shaped their times. But as important as it is to understand how powerful character is in influencing events, it is of greater importance to recognize how powerful we are in molding our own character and, therefore, in controlling our destiny. Character may indeed determine our fate, but character is not determined by fate.

Character is a Choice

Character is often thought of as something fully formed and permanently fixed early in life. This belief implies that we have very little to do with who we are, that what we call character is essentially a composite of hereditary tendencies and temperaments, and environmentally imposed values and attitudes.

This fatalistic notion must be challenged as exercising good character is a choice. There is no doubt that the good and bad habits that become our virtues and vices are strongly influenced by both our inheritance and environment. But in no sense is anyone predestined to be good or bad, nor is a person's character permanently fixed by external circumstances.

Describing a person's character is like taking inventory of that person's habits of thought and action at a particular time. Of course it's not easy to change our ways as our habits of heart and mind are well entrenched, rooted in durable dispositions and beliefs. Yet just as a mountain is constantly being reshaped by weather, our character can be reformed by our choices. Our human capacity to reason and choose makes the formation of our character an ongoing, lifelong process.

Each moment of each day we can choose to be different. Each day we can decide to change our attitudes, reevaluate and rerank our values, and exercise a higher level of self-control to modify our behavior.

Yes, character is the cause of our actions, and it is also the result or effects of our actions. As Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do." Hence the power to control our actions is the power to control our character, and the power to control our character is the power to control our lives.

Understanding Character

Everything we do and say ultimately arises from and reveals our character. In addition to a proper concern for improving our own character, we should also care for the character of others. If we know a person's character, we can better predict how he or she is likely to respond to temptation, adversity and success. It helps us make better judgments when we know the character of the people we date and marry, do business with, and elect as our political leaders.

In recent years, public discussion about the character of various politicians, business executives, journalists, sports stars, and even children has dominated national media coverage. It would be a mistake to underestimate the profound impact on our national consciousness of stories of unspeakable acts of violence and callousness by youngsters and of the never-ending barrage of scandals among high-profile leaders and celebrities.

More and more we are called upon to evaluate individuals and understand events in terms of character. A person who has good character is thought to be especially worthy, virtuous, or admirable in terms of moral qualities. In fact, the three qualities that are essential to good character are:

People of character have good principles. They believe in honor, integrity, duty, compassion, justice and other ethical values.

People of character possess two emotional or psychological qualities that help them live up to their values: conscience and courage. Conscience is an internalized sense of right and wrong, a virtuous inner voice that unceasingly reminds us of our moral obligations and urges us to live up to them. A strong conscience will not be denied; it enforces its moral judgments by rewarding good behavior with good feelings of pride and self-esteem, and it imposes penalties for bad behavior, in the form of shame and guilt. But even good principles and a vigilant conscience aren't always enough. Many of us know when we are doing something wrong, and we know we'll feel real bad afterward - but we still do it.

People of character have indomitable moral courage, or willpower, something that helps them to do the right thing even when the cost is high, risky, or unpleasant. To understand character is to know in your heart that character is moral or ethical strength reinforced with daily choices.

The Parental Perspective

Many things have changed in my life as I've become a parent. I have come to the full understanding that detachment and value neutrality is not the road to good parenting. Shortly after my first son was born, I remember holding him in my arms as this overwhelming thought entered my mind, "If I intend on being a good father, I had better decide what values I want to teach." I needed a solid moral philosophy beyond just "go with the flow" or "do your own thing." That meant I had to raise my own standards of behavior, as values cannot be taught passively nor remotely.

The lessons of value and good character must be purposeful, pervasive, repetitive, consistent, concrete, and creative. Children have to see their parents performing kind and decent acts as they learn to become virtuous, kind, and brave - by seeing those things modeled and then by demonstrating them in their own life.

Like most parents, I care deeply about the kind of people my children will become, and I want to be worthy of their pride and emulation. As a father, everything I say, do, demand and permit, takes on special importance because with my every word and action, I fulfill or fail my duties as a role model and teacher.

This means I have to get pretty serious about character -- my character, my children's character, the character of the people my children play with, and who they eventually date and marry. Looking at the world through the lens of parental love and duty, I've become quite judgmental. I want my kids and the people they associate with to be good, decent people - trustworthy, respectful, responsible, caring, and fair.

My parental perspective has not only fueled my desire to improve my own character; it has also clarified my thinking about right and wrong. Now, when I face an ethical temptation or dilemma, I envision my kids looking over my shoulder, and I try to do the thing that best supports the moral lessons I've tried to teach them.

In my business as a consultant, I come across people who often have rationalizations for their less than ethical behavior. No matter the person, company or situation, I've found that the parental perspective is the most powerful tool I have to cut through these rationalizations and to help influence change.

Four Important Questions

Would you behave any differently if you looked at your choices in reference to the following questions?

What values do I want to see in my children?

Is my conduct consistent with the way I want my children to think of me?

What would the kind of people I want my children to marry do?

What kind of world do I want my children to live in?

For my own part, I'm very much a work in process, often struggling to recognize and overcome a full inventory of moral shortcomings. I'm most certainly not where I want to be, but I'm better than I used to be. As I try to develop, I find two life prescriptions especially useful: first, remember what's really important; second, be vigilant by looking out for self-righteousness, self-delusions, and selfishness.

Hope it adds a new perspective. Time has come to get together and create a new platform for HR- a world that is waiting for enlightened HR professionals.



From Sri Lanka, Kolonnawa
Hi Professor,

Very many thanks for your detailed response and the article. Truly illuminating. I concur with almost everything what you have stated.

You mentioned - I quote

"HR needs to go beyound its comfort zone and consider holistic development that will lay a foundation for better living, individually, socially and finally globally".

This is a bible which all HR needs to follow is my opinion.

As I had stated in many of my posts, I am not an HR person by qualification or profession. But got interested in it due to the need for people management required in my profession and influence of one of my close friends. Came across this site one day and got more and more interested and everyday I get to this site I learn something new.

In my earlier organisation and may be now too, HR serves as a mouth piece for the COO or CEO or MD. HR just goes ahead and implements what the Big Boss feels is right. Ofcourse I am talking of brick and mortar companies and not the new age software companies where I believe HR plays a very key and right role.

YEs, I agree Character is not determined by fate but it is one's own choice.

I believe that it is character which ultimately decides what you would be known as in this world. I have always beleived that it is honesty, integrity, care for fellow human beings et al should be very much part and parcel of one's character. Yes, I have faced several hurdles while constantly trying to stay on this path, but still keep going the same way.



From India, Madras
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