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Phoenix Forward magazine

Can spiritual intelligence improve workplaces?

Nsombi Jaja

If you have ever dreaded going to work each day because you felt your job lacked meaning, you’re not alone. It’s a common sentiment in the business world, according to Nsombi Jaja, a management consultant and graduate of the University of Phoenix Doctor of Business Administration program.

“There are so many people who view work as something that must be endured rather than enjoyed,” Jaja says. “But in an organization where people’s spirits are nurtured and where they find real meaning in their work — can you imagine the creativity and innovation that would be unleashed?”

Jaja spent almost 30 years doing quality-management consulting — helping companies improve their products, business processes and branding — before pursuing her doctorate.

“Quality management is a set of tools and processes that, when combined, help an organization prepare and deliver products and services more efficiently,” she explains. “The processes are highly technical, but it’s the human component that holds it all together. And here is where I found a missing gap.”

If we don’t develop and use [our spiritual dimension], we become unbalanced, like a chair with a missing leg.

When she went abroad to study, Jaja learned there could be another component to quality management. “When I was studying quality management in Japan, one of my professors said that the purpose of the quality management industry is to improve … peoples’ lives throughout the world,” she notes. “That had a profound effect on me.”

She began searching for ways to tap into human potential when helping her clients, which range from governmental agencies and nonprofits to banking institutions and manufacturing companies.

By the mid-1990s, Jaja became intrigued by the concept of spiritual intelligence, inspired in part by Daniel Goleman’s best-selling book  “Emotional Intelligence,” or “EQ,” which entered the pop-culture lexicon after a 1995 article on EQ in Time magazine.

Spiritual intelligence goes deeper than just understanding emotions, Jaja notes, citing the work of Danah Zohar, speaker and author of “Spiritual Capital,” who defines it as the ability to access higher meanings, values and purposes, resulting in a richer and more creative life.

Jaja uses the PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory developed by Richard Wolman, PhD, to measure an organization’s level of spiritual intelligence, stressing that the concept has no direct connection to religion. “We all have a spiritual dimension,” she says. “But if we don’t develop and use it, we become unbalanced, like a chair with a missing leg.”

She developed a presentation on how companies can nurture the human spirit in the workplace “to help create and find meaning in work,” she explains, and then she began selling that content to businesses. Her first client was the Central Bank of Jamaica. “The human component is so important to the performance of organizations,” Jaja emphasizes. “It makes sense to nurture it.”

Pursuing her doctorate helped Jaja gain a deeper understanding of how spiritual intelligence can add value to the workplace, while also nourishing her own spirit, she says. “At the end of the day,” she notes, “it is the human component that creates the value and determines profitability and growth.”


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