Spiritual intelligence: Your new leadership tool

(MoneyWatch) If you're a follower of leadership trends, you've probably heard of the term "emotional intelligence," but it's less likely your familiar with "spiritual intelligence" or "spiritual IQ" (SQ)? This is the focus of a new book, "SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence," authored by Cindy Wigglesworth, a corporate consultant who worked for almost two decades at ExxonMobil before forming her own company in 2000. During her early years at Exxon, she was given feedback on improving her interpersonal skills. After that, through training, reading and even therapy, she realized the value in what she now sees as SQ, and in putting it to use, she became more adept at handling tough projects as she climbed the company's human resources ladder. "I was aware of being more of a midwife of a process that had its own intelligence than a composer or conductor at the front of the room 'making people play their parts,' " recalls Wigglesworth. Recently, I spoke to her about how we can all improve our own SQ, and become better leaders as a result.

CBS MoneyWatch: What exactly is spiritual intelligence?

Cindy Wigglesworth: Leaders need four intelligences to optimize their personal and organizational performance: IQ, emotional intelligence (good interpersonal skills), physical intelligence (taking care of the body so it can support all the other intelligences) and spiritual intelligence. Spiritual intelligence is the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation. In simple terms it is the ability to shift from the perspective of our ego-activated self and see and act from our higher self, our higher or nobler nature.

MW: How does improving SQ make us better leaders?

CW: We can take the perspective of the various peoples and groups we are interacting with. By seeing their perspective from the inside out, we make wiser and more compassionate decisions. The benefit is that we are more likely to find solutions that work in the longer term. Ego, on the other hand, tends to be defensive and self-focused. It creates more tension and suboptimizes solutions.

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including AOLHealth.com, Babble.com and Details.com) and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit AmyLevinEpstein.com.