Spiritual capital is the ability to find meaning and use it for responsible actions and this applies both individual and organizational level. The ability to create, develop and operationalize spiritual capital and meaning is the new understanding and science in leadership.

Leaders’ awareness of creating wealth must be extended to include spiritual capital, and this can be done by learning about spiritual intelligence. Managers who do this can positively influence those they work with. They become better role models for a more sustainable behavior, which results in a meaning-oriented work culture that ultimately is more functional, adaptable and sustainable.

Read this quote carefully:

“Once a man who had been condemned to a life sentence of forced labor was shipped out from Marseille to Devil’s Island. On the high seas a fire broke out on the steamer. The convict, an unusually strong man, was released from his handcuffs—and saved the lives of ten persons. Later his sentence was commuted for this act of heroism. If this man had been asked at the quay in Marseille whether the rest of his life was likely to have any meaning, he would probably have shaken his head. No man
can ever know what life holds in store for him, or what magnificent hour may still await him. No one has the right to invoke his own inadequacy, that is, to call his own inner possibilities”. Frankl, 1971
 

You can never judge whether your future hides opportunities to realize values

As a human, you can probably recognize the feeling of a personal situation that seems “hopeless”. But what will hopeless say? You can’t predict your future. As long as you as a human being cannot prophesy, you can never judge whether your future hides opportunities to realize values that make sense.

Being human means that your life faces a meaning that must be fulfilled and values that must be realized. The meaning of meaning is to give you momentum, which means you move from your current situation through a phase to a new stage that give you the possibility for personal growth. But you do not move randomly through a phase. The meaning and thus your growth potential arises when you have discovered what is waiting for you and what you can offer to life, and this is also not random. When you responsibly reach out to someone or something that is bigger than yourself, you encounter the meaning. 

Meaning is about what life can expect from you and this business

It’s not about what life can offer you but about what you can offer life. It is life that asks you which values you want to realize and what meaning you want to fulfill? And the same with your company and your leadership. It is life that asks the company a question: “What can life expect from this company?”, “What is your contribution into it?”

A search for meaning in life is the primary driving force 

The Austrian Professor of Neurology and Psychiatry, Viktor Emil Frankl (1905-1997), has in his many works written about the meaning of life, and that man’s primary driving force is a search for meaning in life.

Already in his youth, Viktor Frankl developed what is called the third Vienna School of Psychotherapy, and he named his concept “Logotherapy”. Frankl invented the term “existential analysis” to describe the work he wanted to do with logotherapy. “Logos” is Greek and means “meaning”, but it has a much broader meaning in logotherapy. “Logos” stands here for man’s humanity, the purpose of being human and human search for meaning.

How do you improve yours and your company’s growth potential?

In many ways, logotherapy is a misleading expression, because logos are easily misunderstood, and therapy involves the cure of disease, which only is a part of the function of the therapy. It is much more an analysis of what our existence is about and how we can live on our highest possible level and thereby improve our growth potential.

Logotherapy can rightly be called optimistic because it shows how to turn despair into victory, but it is also realistic, for it recognizes tragic events that inevitably will be part of a human being’s existence such as pain, death and guilt. The concept are methods that all people can use in the effort to find out what they stand for, what they are worth and what to do with their lives.

Viktor Frankl’s words and thoughts are important at a time when many people find it difficult to find out what they want and what they can, and this anxiety and frustration are carried into every relationship and also into the workplaces.

The day is for most people, like a monotonous fog. There are ups and downs, but for most people the day is pretty much the same as the previous one, and what does man do? It seeks stimulation in the exterior. A stimulation of his senses or curiosity so that everyday monotony can be broken. Inside man’s personality, there is a fear of himself and of the loneliness, which is hugely difficult to confront, why the common man flees to the outer world, to be entertained and taken in by its glamor.

Unfortunately, this escape has a bad double effect. First of all, over time the stimuli must be stronger and stronger in order to break their own internal monotony and boredom. Secondly, the outward-looking search is deeply addictive, so the individual who has done this for some time loses himself. That is, lose or forget its own identity. This identity crisis only causes the individual to seek even more in the exterior.

At the same time, the acceleration of news and opportunities for external stimuli, which the individual must relate to, has exploded significantly with the development of digital and technological development. It is experienced by many as a great pressure, which can be difficult to cope with without escaping into isolation, frustration or depression.

Spiritual capital and meaning as a growth accelerator is a new paradigm

Spiritual capital and meaning as a growth accelerator is a new paradigm that requires us to radically change our thinking about leadership philosophy and practice. Spiritual capital expresses an idea that the primary motivational force of the individual is finding meaning in life, and that meaning can be found regardless of conditions.

Spiritual capital reflects what a person or company exists for, believes in, strives for, and takes responsibility for. It is about how you, as a leader, achieve growth both strategically, economically and socially by inspiring people’s deepest meaning, values and purpose.

Too often, the value of a business is judged by how much money it earns. This pursuit of economic gains can lead to short-term thinking. It is true that any kind of business requires some kind of financial wealth if it is to succeed in the short term. But for leadership to inspire long-term and sustainable, it must also pursue spiritual capital.

Today, work for many people is still a means of making money, establishing status and external recognition, and people spend many hours at their workplace and many hours thinking about their work. At the same time, more and more people are asking themselves the question: “Is my work meaningful?”. Furthermore, the tendency is that younger generations more and more require that the meaning of their work match their everyday life and life goals.

Across the world, chronic diseases, diagnoses of stress and depression are growing and generally health is not improving. Furthermore, humanity faces global challenges such as major climate change, depletion of natural resources, regional conflicts, international terrorism, acts of violence, hunger and migration. It puts pressure on the question “Who am I? And what is the meaning of my life?” New approaches to develop spiritual capital and meaning in 21st century work are therefore necessary.

A healthy and meaningful company integrates its economic, social and spiritual agenda into one vision and is aware that spiritual capital and meaning are the fundamental foundation.

To obtain spiritual capital, both you as the leader and the company as a whole must have the ability to create and develop spiritual intelligence.  

Spiritual intelligence is the ability to find meaning and values in any situation and from that act responsible

The concept of spirit or spirituality has in no way a religious meaning and is not about being religious. The word refers only to the specific human dimension, which is the spiritual dimension that separates us from all other living things.

It is the understanding that you are more than body and mind, you are at the same time spirit that can also be termed your soul. Spiritual intelligence is the intelligence of the soul. That it is a specific human dimension is about having the ability to ask fundamental or ultimate questions such as: Why was I born? What is the meaning of my life? Why should I continue to live when I feel depressed and have pain?

Spiritual intelligence is the ability to find meaning and values in any situation and from that act responsible. The spiritual dimension makes you special as a human being, and if you work consciously with it and the ability to find meaning, you strengthen the potential of your inner soul. To exercise conscious awareness of your spiritual intelligence is also a way to maintain health and to use meaning in problem solving.

Working with the perspective that the primary motivational force is to find meaning in life requires, first and foremost, that you as a leader have a deep understanding of your own spiritual intelligence. Helping others find meaning requires that you find meaning in your own life and can navigate with your own spiritual capital, which I describe as having meaning in your personal leadership.

Having meaning in your personal leadership requires a deep understanding of two things. First, it is fundamental to understand that the individual person is both body, mind and spirit, as well as which sources of meaning the spiritual dimension contains. Second, it is fundamental to understand that man, with his thoughts and intentions, creates energy that influences both the individual and collective development. 

References:
Frankl, Viktor E. (1969/1988). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of Logotherapy. New York, NY. Penguin Books.

Frankl, Viktor E. (1971). Psykiatri og sjælesorg (Eng.: The Doctor and the Soul). Danmark, Gyldendals Uglebøger.

Mentor, Advicer and Co-founder of Meaning at Work

Dr. Anja Elfrida Hald

Anja works with individuals and organizations on how to discover meaning and values from the concept of Logotherapy and Existential Analysis by Viktor Frankl. As a management philosophical foundation and practice, Anja offer advice in relation to developing and operationalizing spiritual capital and meaning as growth accelerator in companies and organizations.