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Cultivate spiritual intelligence as a leader to inspire and empower

Leaders with spiritual intelligence are shown to be more effective at empowering and inspiriting their teams, writes Yosi Amram.

6 min read


spiritual intelligence

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Yosi Amram

A study by Bain & Co. revealed that employees who feel inspired are twice as productive as those who are merely satisfied.  

However, inspiring our teams is easier said than done. I’ve worked as a therapist and executive CEO coach for over a decade, and the question I’m asked the most is about how to become an inspirational leader. 

My clients had yet to grasp that becoming inspirational isn’t the goal; it’s the side effect of first becoming inspired ourselves. We can light our spark when we learn to ignite it in others. When we know how to lead ourselves, we can lead others. And the key to it all is spiritual intelligence. 

What is spiritual intelligence?

Spiritual intelligence is not a belief in a higher power or god, nor is it an experience of awakening, a momentary realization or a feeling “at one” with the universe. Analogous to emotional intelligence, the ability to draw on emotional resources to help manage one’s and others’ emotions, spiritual intelligence is the capacity to draw on resources and qualities hailed by all the world’s spiritual and wisdom traditions. 

As a therapist, researcher and executive coach, I’ve worked with over a hundred CEOs looking to inspire their employees and uplift their organizations. Whenever I’d explain that to become inspirational leaders, my clients had to cultivate their spiritual intelligence first, they would sometimes seem puzzled. Many of them are agnostics or atheists. In their words, they couldn’t be further from spiritual. 

But, as I would explain, anyone can develop their spiritual intelligence, regardless of their varying spiritual orientations. Through fostering spiritual intelligence, my clients all found ways to connect with the sacred spark of their life force, leading inspired lives that inspired and empowered all those around them, personally and professionally. 

My background in spiritual intelligence 

Before becoming a therapist and CEO coach, I was a CEO guiding two tech startups through successful IPOs. Though I was blessed with health and wealth, my heart longed for deeper fulfillment, and I eventually chose to leave it all behind to pursue my psychology doctorate. 

Through my research, I produced the first academically validated spiritual intelligence scale, demonstrating SI’s significant contribution to well-being, quality of life, work performance and leadership. My study of 42 CEOs and 210 staff members showed that the teams of CEOs with higher SI were markedly more committed, worked harder, had lower turnover and exhibited more extraordinary team spirit and higher morale. It also showed that SI was complementary to emotional intelligence, each contributing to leadership effectiveness in its own distinct and synergistic way. This research has been cited over 1,000 times. 

How to access your spiritual intelligence 

Spiritual intelligence naturally develops out of a profound connection to the core of our being — our spirit, where our inspiration and deepest interconnectedness arise. From such rooting, all spiritual intelligence qualities, such as service, purpose, centeredness, gratitude, integrity, humility, joy and more, can sprout and grow. Actualizing these SI traits (many of which were identified in the Bain study as those leading to inspired teams) can set off a ripple effect of inspiration that will reverberate across our entire organization, attracting others to us and our visions. 

While there are many ways to establish a deeper inner connection, one simple but effective way is to sense the rise and fall of breath throughout our body and the pulsing aliveness of the blood flow in our heart and veins. We then expand our awareness to receive and include the entirety of our experience — our body, our emotions and the support of the ground from Mother Earth below. When we allow, recognize and open ourselves to the reality of our lived experience for what it is, our spirit essence — our life force — can flow, permeating our being and revealing its power. 

Apart from the personal benefits, learning to access this wisdom of our being and cultivate these qualities fuels our spark, letting our light and energy radiate outward, drawing others in. There, our heart qualities of gratitude, appreciation, love and joy can shine forth and be felt energetically by others, activating a resonant frequency of inspiration in them, which spreads through the entire team. Hence, we can create and cultivate collaborative communities of people with shared intentions, common missions, visions and values. Everyone feels connected, inspired and empowered, exponentially multiplying our effectiveness. 

The lasting benefits 

Many researchers other than myself have demonstrated that SI contributes to satisfaction and quality of life, work performance and effective leadership. Studies prove leaders with greater SI produce better financial results for their organizations. As of today, over two decades since its inception, SI has been established as a real and positive influence in our professional and personal lives. 

Whether you’re an aspiring leader or a seasoned veteran, you already embody many SI qualities. You hold some vision of your potential — the person and the leader you aspire to be. If you trace this aspiration to its source, you will find it arising from deep within your heart, soul and sacred spark of life, yearning to express your highest potential for the good, the true and the beautiful. By igniting your sacred spark, fanning its flame and harnessing your life force, your life becomes imbued with deeper meaning, beauty and grace.   


Yosi Amram, Ph.D., a former founder and CEO of two public companies, is a clinical psychologist and a CEO leadership coach who has worked with over 100 CEOs — many of whom built companies with thousands of employees and revenues in the billions. He is a pioneering researcher in the emerging field of spiritual intelligence. His research has received over 1,000 academic citations, and he is the author of the newly released book Spiritually Intelligent Leadership: How To Inspire by Being Inspired.” 

Opinions expressed by SmartBrief contributors are their own. 


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