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Cindy is president of Deep Change, Inc. and the author of the just released must read for any leader, SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence. Her ideas about this third dimension of leadership will send you deeper into your own thinking about how you can lead most effectively and authentically.
Multiple Intelligences and the Woman Leader
Women tend to score higher than men in emotional and spiritual intelligence. We have a natural tendency to develop skills the world desperately needs. Imagine what capitalism could look like if multiple intelligences were used in decision-making. Imagine if long-term good for future generations and the planet mattered to our corporations as much as or more than short-term gain. Women tend to balance these things more easily than men. So why don’t more women step into leadership roles?
IQ is our classic measure of mental intelligence. Recently, women have begun to lead men by about 5 points. Years of research into EQ (emotional intelligence) has shown that IQ is “not enough” to succeed in any field. But if you have enough IQ and technical training, then EQ becomes the next differentiator of success. In other words, assuming enough IQ, if you have EQ you are more likely to succeed.
There are 18 skills of EQ in the Daniel Goleman/Richard Boyatzis model. Their Emotional Competence Inventory is the “gold standard” assessment in the EQ world. These skills include empathy, where women tend to excel. Men, in my experience, use willpower as a first-choice method to control their emotional outbursts. They suppress feelings rather than gain insight in how to manage them. Women tend to notice how they are feeling and more easily learn to reflect on the “why” behind it. Healthy self-reflection helps with EQ and SQ. Good EQ creates the ability to influence others, work well in a team, and be trusted as a leader.
Women seem to start out with a stronger baseline EQ, perhaps due to brain differences, hormone differences, and social training. This gives us a significant gender advantage, if we use it.
What is spiritual intelligence (SQ)? I define spiritual intelligence as “the ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation.” There are 21 skills of SQ in my model. Each skill can be self-assessed from “novice” to “expert” level. And each skill can be developed if the leader chooses to do so.
SQ is a new field and research into the leadership advantages of SQ is in its earliest stages. What I know from my own life experience and from working with clients is that SQ is like EQ on steroids. It moves us from being good at influencing to being inspirational. It moves us from empathy to compassion and profound humility. It moves us from operating from ego to operating from our highest, noblest self. With humility comes an openness of perception, whereby we can see new information. Other people’s perspectives become helpful input to a holistic view as opposed to being “right” or “wrong”. With a more open and expansive mind, we can start perceiving subtle patterns in systems and across time that we might have not noticed before. This helps us make better decisions. With high SQ comes an ability to stay calm and centered – crucial if we are to make full use of our IQ skills and make optimal choices under pressure. (Note: both men and women can excel in EQ and SQ, as these are learnable skills.)
Women score higher, on average, than men on 14 of the 21 SQ skills. You would think that with a natural advantage in EQ and SQ, and a slight advantage on IQ, women would be taking at least 50% of the roles as leaders. We could be bringing these much-needed multiple intelligences to the workplace and to politics. Yet we do not see this happening in representative numbers. Our skills could bring us power to influence the direction of the future. Why don’t we use them?
I think we get in our own way. While there are still some structural inequities in our modern systems, our biggest barrier now is that women tend to avoid using power because of our aversion to its possible misuse. We rein ourselves in and fail to lead where we could. We even shape our bodies to look “smaller” when a “power posture” could instead raise our testosterone levels, increase our self-confidence, and give us instant social power.
In my experience, self-aware and self-confident women who lead their own lives with grace and power are more likely to attract mature and confident mates, friends, co-workers, customers and investors. Who doesn’t want that?
As Gloria Feldt says, power unused is power useless. It is crucial that every brilliant mind, heart, and spirit on this planet, regardless of gender, step into the most useful roles we can. The world needs each of us. We have skills the world needs. We need to overcome our historical programming and use our IQ, EQ, and SQ in service of the greater good of all.
 See Working With Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman, 1998
Latest posts by Gloria Feldt (Posts)
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