Sunday, March 3, 2013

Three “W”s in Wise Leaders

The doors of wisdom are never shut.                               --Benjamin Franklin

Knowledge tends to be linear, but wisdom is often multidimensional. A wise mind is not full, but free; not about cleverness, but about humbleness; not about system or boxes, but about out-of-box; not about informativeness, but about openness. “Being wise” seems to be a bit old fashion, however, as a leader, the pursuit of wisdom is the only path to reach high maturity, from good to great, or from important to significant. Wisdom is not as superficial as winning only, or as countable as gray hairs, there are three “W”s in wise leaders.

1.    WHY

A wise leader doesn’t always know everything, however, a wise leader always has the curiosity to understand things deeper or look at things from different angle. Leadership is more about digging into WHY while management is more about knowing how.
  • A wise leader is “ageless”: Age does make one mature, however, wisdom is neither equal to gray hairs nor wrinkles, though age may give one experience, getting older does not always make one wiser, a wise leader shouldn’t always be portrayed as an elder at golden age; we can also see the wisdom seeds in youngsters, like bamboo shoot or the sunshine in the morning, they bring fresh thinking or ask deep questions. Thus, a wise leader is “ageless,” more open to unknown, more substantial than style, more agile to changes.
  •  A wise leader leads via reflectionWisdom is the full learning cycle: learning, unlearning and relearning. If knowledge is gained from learning, insight is captured from re-learning, then wisdom is a full set of learning, unlearning and relearning. Wisdom mainly consists of having experience and yet knowing when to discard that experience, when you come to new knowledge - new frontiers to existing knowledge. Plus an open mind -wisdom is a function of knowing what you don't know and keeps curiosity to know more. Wisdom combines knowledge, reflection, and experience, a senior leader may lead from experience; a younger leader may lead from imitation; but an “ageless” wise leader will lead from reflection.


Not only does wisdom have dimensions, but also it has “gravity.” because cleverness is not wisdom, or style only can not convey wisdom, one need gain some weight in the mind or encounter a few failures in the life to refine leadership wisdom:

  • Leadership Gravity: A wise leader does need the “gravity” in the heart or put the “weight” in the mind. Leadership gravity means the humble attitude but higher aptitude, be confident with humility, “down to earth” with flying thinking; forward-looking, and act wisely. A wise leader shows that style is no substitute for substance, that knowing certain facts is not more powerful than simple wisdom.
  • Weigh in Multitude of Decision factors: As a leader, perhaps the most important thing is to make a decision, a wise leader will weigh in the multitude of decision factors and balance opposite viewpoint in making the right decision at the right time or dealing with uncertainty or change. A wise leader has the ability to unify all necessary elements of intelligence in the service of a common good and noble purpose. Wisdom is also not equal to knowledge, but how you use knowledge, to transform to intelligence, then transcend into wisdom and influence.


 Silence is Golden, Speech is Silver.  –American Proverb 

A wise leader is usually not the smartest person in the room, as old saying: A great wise person seems like a fool, does not practice conventional wisdom. A wise leader has the courage to break through barriers and constraint, but also has essential pieces of awareness, grows a depth of empathy and goes beyond smartness.

  • Think Deeper, rather just than just Speak LouderA wise leader is a good communicator, upon knowing when to voice out, when to keep silent, think deeper before speak louder; use fewer words to express more; master of crowd-sourcing and enjoying collective wisdom.
  • Know what to Sell, What not to: A wiser leader can also be a good promoter, to sell vision, failure, and wisdom, with crucial skills such as the creative ability to come up with fresh ideas, the analytic ability recognize the truly good one and the practical ability to convince the value and gain support.
Well, there are many interesting "W" words, however wisdom neither just comes from Wild Wide West, nor equal to Wit, Wizard or Win, Book can teach you knowledge, but only through digesting and reflecting, knowledge can be transformed into wisdom; A wise leader discovers and determines, learns and leads.
 “Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them”. --Ralph Waldo Emerson  


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