The Influence of Spiritual Intelligence to promote Ethical behaviour in the Organizations


Satarupa Datta

Assistant Professor, Department of Commerce, Dinabandhu Andrews College, Kolkata, West Bengal.

*Corresponding Author E-mail:



During the last decade, many organizations collapsed due to severe ethical crisis. Spiritual intelligence represents the extent to which higher values, meaning and a sense of purpose influence an individual’s decisions and actions. Spiritual intelligence concerns the ability to become more conscious of the lower motivations (i.e. fear, greed, ego) and how to transform these to higher motivations that are more sustainable (i.e. creativity, serving the community, etc.) The main objective of the current paper is to study the importance of Spiritual Quotient to restore ethical behaviour among the employees and thus promote organizational sustainability. Spiritual Quotient is the ultimate intelligence with which people address and solve the problems associated with meaning and value. Thus, the paper concludes that employee unethical behaviour in an organization can be solved through Spiritual Quotient and ethical values in organization.


KEYWORDS: Ethical Behaviour, Spiritual Intelligence, Human Values, Organizations.




Unethical behaviour takes a significant toll on organizations by damaging reputations, harming employee morale, and increasing regulatory costs—along with the wider damage to society’s overall trust in business. During the last decade, organizations such as Enron corporation, Lehman Brothers, World Com, Arthur and Anderson, collapsed due to severe ethical crisis. These organizations were suffering from low efficiency, revenue losses and bankruptcy (Da Silveira, 2013; Ailon, 2013). Enron Corp., a distinguished and prominent company was declared bankrupt in late 2001 due to its failure to address unethical issues (Cavender and Miller, 2013). Thus, it can be stated that unethical behaviour of a single employee may result in financial and ethical degradation of the entire organization.


During the last two decades, US based organizations have articulated codes of ethics and developed ethics training programs for their employees but they are unable to eliminate unethical practices. Moreover employees are continuously involved in unethical misconduct. In addition, Evidence of new ethical lapses involving, international bribery and employee unethical behaviour is serious issue for the organizations. According to the Ethics Resource Center (2013), in their National Business Ethics Survey (NBES), they have found that 41 percent of employees were involved in the activities that were against the law. The range of illegal and unethical activities that goes unreported is extensive. It includes corruption, bribery and fraud in the organizations.


Ethical behaviour is necessary for the success of the organizations. Each individual in the organization has a specific role and responsibility to work professionally, conscientiously and ethically. Being ethical is a concern to all employees, irrespective of the position they are occupying in the organization. Ethical behaviour is considered crucial for the growth of every organization, for promoting team work among colleagues and building confidence and trust as well. It’s also necessary for every employee to behave ethically with the clients in order to have good relationship and loyal customers (Zarezankova-Potevska and Taneva-Veshoska, 2012).


Spiritual intelligence represents the extent to which higher values, meaning and a sense of purpose influence an individual’s decisions and actions. Spiritual intelligence concerns the ability to become more conscious of the lower motivations (i.e. fear, greed, ego) and how to transform these to higher motivations that are more sustainable (i.e. creativity, serving the community, etc.)


Ethics is the essence of human values which can also be defined the human character that insists on moral attitudes. Ethics is always considered to be the standard principles and norms to be followed to lead a perfect life. It is also considered as an inducing factor that drives an individual to be positive that guides him to take decisions that is good for him and the society. Many philosophers and educationalists describe ethics as the capability of distinguishing between good and bad and thus following the good and right things. In general, ethics is the set of moral principles or moral values that is practised by an individual as his character within himself and in the group.



The main objective of the current paper is to study the importance of Spiritual Quotient to restore ethical behaviour among the employees and thus promote organizational sustainability.



Joseph and Lakshmi (2012) in their paper on “Spiritual Intelligence at Work” describes the relationship of spiritual intelligence with ethical behaviour in the studies. They have stated that spiritual intelligence initiates the ethical behaviour and the personalities like responsibilities, self-problem solving, decision making and other inter personal qualities of the employees in the work place. They emphasize the significance of spiritual intelligence to commitment to righteousness and ultimate wisdom at the workplace, which develops skills such as interpersonal and intrapersonal relations, problem solving, goal attainment, motivation, commitment, responsibility, self-awareness, team spirit, stress management, time management, leadership and transformation, all necessary for work and to be successful at workplace. In organisations, the code of ethics was framed based on the activities that involves organisation commitments, punctuality, loyalty, integrity, respect towards others, fairness, caring etc. Such principles show the effectiveness of an individual or an employee, as an ethical personality in an organisation. Researchers observed the activities of the employees those who have potential to be ethical and committed to responsibilities, are being spiritual in their work place (Joseph and Lakshmi, 2012). Spiritual persons are not driven by negative attitudes and pessimism like ego, anger etc in the workplace. They possess moral values and seek wholesome relationships with others and a greater meaning in what they do (Mitroff and Denton, 1999).


The employees possessing spiritual intelligence were found to be more tolerant and adaptable to the working environment and they helped their colleagues and subordinates to overcome the difficulties. They also built valued relationship in their workplace with the influence of their spiritual intelligence (Burke, 2006). Gull and Doh (2004) argued that spirituality can be the basis for ethical conduct in business. Where spirituality is absent, there is lack of understanding regarding interconnection among individuals. Research results show that the most important values associated with behaviour consistent with ethical conduct are “honesty” and “equality” (Palermo and Evans, 2012). A variety of studies demonstrates a clear link between values and workplace behaviour.


Petchsawanga and Duchon (2012) reports two studies that examine how an organization might enable more productive work practices by encouraging the expression of its employees’ spiritual. Study 1 showed that people who regularly practice meditation have higher workplace spirituality scores than people who do not regularly practice meditation.


Lips-wiersma and Nikalant (2008) in a study suggests that envy, callousness, selfishness, betrayal, mercilessness, insensitivity, gossip, disservice, and negligence emanate from people’s moral weaknesses. Thus, spiritual paradigm reminds us that “our spiritual duty is to use our free will to help and not harm others to further their ends”.


Peter Pruzan (2004) argues about new perspective on leadership: spiritually-based leadership. He explains that strong trend toward flatter, less hierarchical organizations, greater use of self-organizing project-teams, new types of production and production processes, value-based leadership, social and ethical accounting, corporate social responsibility, corporate branding, and ethical investing. Some of the important skills for the new age are: meaningful vision, enthusiasm, and strong sense of purpose, personal integrity, ability to instill confidence, openness, trustworthiness, and emotional intelligence (Amram, 2005).


Role of Spiritual Intelligence:

·       Spirituality involves the recognition of a feeling or sense or belief that there is something greater than myself, something more to being human than sensory experience, and that the greater whole of which we are part is cosmic or divine in nature.

·       Spiritual intelligence expands the capacity to understand others at the deepest level. Spiritual understanding allows to discern both the 'true cause' of behaviour without judgement, and serve the 'true needs' of others until they themselves learn to meet their own needs.

·       Spiritual intelligence helps to increase individual awareness regarding purpose of life and inherent values. Through development of spiritual intelligence, individuals understand the interconnectedness of all forms of life and thus become more wise.

·       Spirituality forms an internalized general regulative ideal, based on four common aspects of spirituality: selftranscendence, interconnectedness, meaning and one’s ultimate concern, that governs what individuals perceive and value and how they act. These moral values practiced over time become virtues. Spiritually virtuous individuals contribute significant benefits to organizations (Zsolnai, 2004).

·       Spirituality refers to a search for meaning that transcends material well-being. It is a focus on basic, deep-routed human values, and a relationship with a universal source, power or divinity. Spirituality in the workplace leads to improved ethical behaviour at a personal level and an enhanced ethical climate/culture at an organizational level.

·       Spiritual intelligence is important to assist a person in finding the deepest and most inner resource from which the capacity to care, the power to tolerate and adapt is obtained. In workplace, spiritual intelligence helps the worker in the context of relationships and aligns personal values with a clear sense of purpose that demonstrate a high level of integrity in work (Burke, 2006).


King (2008) in his research on the topic “Rethinking claims of spiritual intelligence” mentioned that spiritual intelligence is a set of psychological capabilities that helps an individual to attain the self-recognition and to enable the deep thinking. He also instructed four components of spiritual intelligence namely Critical Existential Thinking, Personal Meaning Production, Transcendental Awareness and Conscious State Expansion.


The concept of goodness can be highly related to the moral values and ethical behaviour by the human beings. All religious concepts are highly associated with the values like love, affection, truth, honesty, justice, equality etc. These are the key result areas when the human beings are functioning in an ethical manner. Hence spirituality and ethical behaviour are related in their characteristics and their area of implementation. According to researchers, Spiritually Intelligent Leaders work through their intuition. They know their core values and align with them. The core values drive them to act with wisdom and compassion. They concentrate at present through meditation. They understand the connection between the mind and body. There is an intricate link between the mind and body and uniting this through exercise, nutrition and meditation enhances the wellbeing of individuals.


When people are spiritually initiated, their activities will be based on the values, which were framed as the ethics in our culture. That is the why the Spiritual behaviour of an individual always coincides with the ethical behaviour and the set of rules to be followed in the society. Many countries framed their constitution based on the religious books and preaching of the prophets, philosophers and religious scholars. As discussed earlier, the relativism ethics is based on the rules or culture that is followed within a particular


India, a secular state, framed its constitution based the International Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which were commonly accepted by many nations of the world. The constitution strictly follows the rule that no discrimination to be found in the society, working environment, service organisations and in the educational institutions. It is also followed as an ethics in many organisations. Non-discrimination cannot be implied only through laws. It has to be inserted in the minds of the human beings as a spiritual thought, which would convert the human being to abide with law, thinking that it is his/ her spiritual duty or responsibility. Hence the sense of spirituality is considered to be an influential factor for being ethical and goodness. Researches were carried out by many psychologists to prove the existence of spiritual intelligence and its relationship and influence on ethical behaviour.


Spiritual Quotient: Solution to Unethical Behaviour of Employees:
In 2000, Zohar and Marshal introduced the term, ‘spiritual quotient’ (SQ). According to Zohar and Marshal (2012), SQ is the ultimate intelligence with which people address and solve the problems associated with meaning and value. It is the intelligence that has the force to help people use their actions and lives in a wider, richer and meaning-giving context. The 12 principles of SQ:


1. Self-Awareness-Knowing what I believe in value, and deeply motivates Me

2. Vision and Value Led-Acting from principles and deep beliefs, and living accordingly

3. Positive Use of Adversity-Leaming and growing from mistakes, setbacks, and suffering

4 Holistic-Seeing larger pattems, relationships, and connections; having a sense of belonging

5. Compassion-Having the quality of feeling with and deep empathy

6. Celebration of Diversity-Begarding other people for their differences, not despite them

7. Field-Independent-Standing against the crowd and having one's own convictions

8. Ask Fundamental "Why Questions-Needing to understand things and get to the bottom of them

9. Ability to Reframe - Standing back from a situation/problem and seeing the bigger picture seeing problems in a wider contest

10. Spontaneity-Living in and being responsive to the moment

11. Sense of Vocation - Feeling called upon to serve, to give something back

12. Humility-Having the sense of being a player in a larger drama, of one's true place in the world


Spiritual employees are considered more ethical (Fry and Wigglesworth, 2013). According to Zohar and Marshal (2012) SQ is the Soul’s intelligence with which employee heal themselves. In addition, employee use SQ to deal with existential problems like problems where employee feels personally stuck, trapped by the past problems regarding illness and grief. SQ enables them to solve these problems and find peace about them. Moreover, High SQ requires people to be deeply honest with themselves and demands the most intense personal integrity (Selman, Selman, Selman and Selman, 2011). Amram (2007) argue that “SQ is the set of abilities that employee use to apply, manifest and embody spiritual resources, values and qualities in ways that enhances their daily functioning and well-being”. SQ is essential to assist an individual in finding out the deepest and most internal resource from which the capacity to care, the power to tolerate and adapt is obtained. Emmons (2000) argue that SQ protects people life against non-desirable and non-adaptive behaviours like acting in destructive ways, socially or even personally.


Linking Ethical Values with Employee Behaviour:

When it comes to promoting ethical values, most of the organizations focus on ethics training programs aimed at increasing employee’s ethical behavior in organization. (Ghazali, and Ismail (2013) argued that the organization ethical Culture can be a barrier to employee unethical behavior. Moreover, if an organization is perceived to be practicing high ethical values, less unethical behavior can be expected from the employees in that organization (Ghazali, and Ismail, 2013). The unethical behavior in the organization affects the sustainability of an organization (Carroll, 2012) that become unable to maintain its good image. In addition, Employee’s unethical behavior may include violation of conscience, unethical misconduct and pay no attention to policy of the organization (Arif and Malek, 2013. Wells and Schminke, (2001) suggested that high-integrity employees represent a more highly ethical than low-integrity employees. Additionally, integrity constructs honesty which is concerned with employee behaviour. Researchers argue that ethical behaviour is crucial for the sustainability of every organization. Furthermore, Implementation of well formulated ethical values in organization has many benefits (Krishna, Dangayach and Jain, 2011). It promotes team work among colleagues and builds confidence and honesty. The ethical values are based on faith, justice, honesty and human virtues. These are logical ethical principles which employees are required to observe them (Esfahani and Najafi, 2015. Furthermore, Zohar and Marshal (2000) indicated that SQ is “the soul’s intelligence.” It is the intelligence that makes to whole the people, which allow them to integrate the many fragments of their lives, activities, and being. It allows them to know what their organization is about. SQ is the ability to behave with wisdom and clemency as long as internal and external peace is maintained taking into consideration the conditions (Wiggleworth, 2006). SQ engages in virtuous behaviour: to show forgiveness, to display compassion and wisdom. According to Reave (2005) Spiritual values and practices allow people to accomplish organizational goals such as increased productivity, lowered rates of turnover and their sustainability. SQ in employee at the organization improves their honesty and trust (Petchsawang and Duchon, 2012). SQ in organizations can improve through training that is necessary to the employee to learn SQ (Mayer, 2000). Ethical values influence the moral reasoning of employee as they believe that what constitutes right or wrong (Ambrose, Arnaud and Schminke, 2008).


Suggestions to Promote Workplace Ethics:

·       Senior managers should become role models for ethical behaviour in the workplace. Employees follow the top level managers to maintain the ethical standards in the organization.

·       An organizational code of ethics can reduce ethical ambiguities. The code of ethics should state the organization’s primary values and the ethical rules that employees are expected to follow.

·       Managers should organize seminars, workshops and similar programs to promote ethics in the workplace. Training sessions reinforce the organization’s standards of conduct, clarify the practices which are not permissible, and address possible ethical dilemmas.

·       Performance appraisal of managers should include evaluations of ethical behaviour.

·       The organization should provide formal mechanisms that allow employees to discuss ethical dilemmas and report unethical behaviour without fear of reprimand. This could include developing roles for ethical counsellors, or ethical officers.



The studies prove that a person who is having a high sense of spirituality will behave as an ethical personality in the society and in his working environment. Spirituality in the workplace leads to improved ethical behaviour at a personal level and an enhanced ethical climate/culture at an organizational level. Spiritual intelligence is important to assist a person in finding the deepest and most inner resource from which the capacity to care, the power to tolerate and adapt to situations are realised.



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Received on 29.05.2022         Modified on 18.06.2022

Accepted on 04.07.2022      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Asian Journal of Management. 2022;13(3):262-266.

DOI: 10.52711/2321-5763.2022.00045