Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

William McDonough, S.M.D.


Organizational Leadership, Spirituality and Leadership


The complexity of our world calls for leaders to have spiritual intelligence and the transformational capacity to lead organizations and communities (Al Eid et al., 2021; Crichton, 2008; Hacker et al., 2017; Sisk, 2016). Spiritual intelligence can be affiliated with a religion but grounded in the belief that all humans align with a greater calling (Emmons, 2000; King & DeCicco, 2009; Lee-Fong et al., 2022; Shea, 2000; Vaughan, 2002). Through qualitative methods using surveys and interviews with thirty leaders, this study found that contemplative spiritual practices enable spiritual intelligence and build transformational leadership capacity. Transformational leadership is the favored approach to implement sustainable change and address complex issues (Bell et al., 2022; Morton, 2020; Wigglesworth, 2004). This study contributes to existing literature supplying research on contemplative spiritual practices’ effect on spiritual intelligence and transformational leadership capacity. Conclusions include the necessity of contemplative spiritual practices and a trusted community for leaders to deepen and broaden perspectives, develop capacity, and support others while addressing complex issues. Recommendations include further research and enhancing the graduate curriculum at St. Catherine University and like institutions. This research is critical because neglecting our spiritual intelligence further complicates our world.

The Enabling Spiritual Intelligence study expands the transformational leadership theory and extends the understanding of the importance and accessibility of spiritual intelligence. Spiritual intelligence is relevant now as more complex issues exist in our organizations and communities. Our world needs leaders with spiritual intelligence (SQ) and greater leadership capacity to lead organizations and communities through such issues (Al Eid et al., 2021; Burrows & Gnad, 2018; Crichton, 2008; Hacker et al., 2017; Sisk, 2016). This research explores how to achieve SQ and transformational leadership capacity and why it is crucial now. It determines the relevancy of SQ and how to achieve it, the presence of complex issues, and the importance of SQ for leaders. The introduction of this study provides the significance, scope, limitations, and an overview of the research structure. The challenges with this research include a narrow sample of participants and the personal nature of spirituality. This study includes participants with undergraduate degrees who studied contemplative spiritual practices at St. Catherine University or similar institutions. This is a biased group to research as they sought to learn about their spirituality and practices, creating an opportunity for a control group. Due to time constraints, this study lacks a control group; however, it sets the foundation for further study. In addition, it lacks follower participant input, a balancing component of the transformational leadership theory (Bass, 1985). Another limitation includes the personal nature of discussing spiritual intelligence and practices. This personal topic can make participating in surveys and interviews challenging. As a result of this sensitivity, I use pseudonyms, signed consent forms, and clear communication of the opportunity to stop participation at any time. The background, reflexivity, problem, and purpose statements follow, along with the research objectives and question following. This study argues the value of this research along

with known limitations. The next portion of the research includes the Literature Review, organized by key terms and thematic analysis to represent the related identified literature. Next, the Theoretical Framework uses two spiritual intelligence models and the transformational leadership theory to organize the research. The Method portion of this research conveys a qualitative approach and analysis explaining the tools and data collected. It also reviews the reflective thematic approach to coding and identifying themes. The Findings section of this study includes the definition and support of five themes through participant input. The findings align with the transformational leadership theory dimensions in the Discussion section and include the limitations of this study. Finally, the Summary and Recommendations address the limitations, ending the research with the Conclusion. SQ and leadership capacity fuel transformational leadership, the favored approach to enable sustainable change by addressing complex issues (Bell et al., 2022; Morton, 2020; Wigglesworth, 2004). Spiritual intelligence can sometimes seem out of reach or even mysterious, but we all have the potential or opportunity to develop it through contemplative spiritual practices. This study aims to extend the existing literature, education, and beliefs by understanding how contemplative spiritual practices affect spiritual intelligence and how vital SQ is today for transformational leadership capacity. Finally, this study extends research into how contemplative spiritual practices and SQ education can integrate into leadership programming. The opportunity to provide awareness of contemplative spiritual practices and education to develop spiritual intelligence could give St. Catherine University students greater transformational leadership capacity to address complex issues.