10 Remarkable Qualities of Wise Leaders
Wisdom is about behavior not intelligence.
Wisdom is practical not theoretical; skillful not academic. Wisdom gets things done. Fools sit and talk while the wise move out. I’m not suggestion it’s foolish to explore options and discuss plans. I’m saying wise leaders add more value than foolish.
On the other hand, foolish leaders don’t talk enough. If this seems contradictory with what I said before, it is.
You need wisdom and the ability to identify wisdom.
10 remarkable qualities of wise leaders
- Energize others.
- Choose character over talent.
- Ask, “What are we learning?”
- Enrich the leadership of others.
- Speak well of others.
- Honor effort and progress as well as results.
- Wonder and doubt while moving forward at the same time.
- Delegate decisions; retain responsibility.
- Believe time is always short.
- Say, “Teach me.” Wise leaders hang with wise people. They know the need to always appear wise isn’t wise.
Bonus: Wise leaders know talking isn’t doing.
10 disastrous marks of foolish leaders
- Create turmoil.
- Never finish and move on.
- Love leading but reject following.
- Choose sides in squabbles.
- Voice frustrations immediately.
- Exercise authority but won’t submit to authority.
- Don’t make mistakes; they’re always right. (Sarcasm intended)
- Concentrate on the present and neglect the future.
- Grow arrogant with success. Past success never guarantees future success.
Today’s challenge: Intentionally practice one behavior of wise leaders and jettison one mark of foolish leaders.
What quality of wise leaders carries the most weight? Why?
What mark of foolish leaders is most damaging? Why?
What can you add to either list?
wise leaders see hidden talent others may overlook
Love that one Karin. Few things are more useful than seeing in others what they don’t see in themselves.
Wisdom is always anchored in eternal values (Proverbs 1:7). Wise leaders 1) Love God, 2) Love others, 3) Understand their accountability as stewards of the organization, resources, and lives which they lead. 4) Follow actively in organizations in which they do not lead.
Intelligence is acquired from mostly by nature and somewhat by nurture. Wisdom is acquired by choices. History is full of stories of intelligent tyrants and sociopaths. Wisdom is more rare.
Thank you Marc. You comment that wisdom is acquired by choices makes me think the path to wisdom is experience and experience includes a series of mistakes or poor choices. But I think wisdom includes learning principles to apply that help us avoid unnecessary mistakes.
Dan to offshoot on your comment regarding wisdom, experience, and mistakes I read somewhere “Mistakes are nothing more than bridges between experience and wisdom.” I feel like I am always staring at a bridge, which I think is a good thing as long as it’s not a bridge I’ve crossed before. Vince Lombardi reminds us “if you are not making mistakes, you are not trying hard enough.” and lastly “anything can be called a mistake in the middle.”
Nicely added Al… love the bridge illustration.
Wisdom is not only based on personal experience. The choice to learn from others is wise, and more efficient, than learning vicariously, although it may lack context and poignancy.
Dan, Great article, I suggest that wise leaders share success with others, while foolish leaders take all the credit for themselves. Don
Thanks Don. We should have learned to share when we were children. 🙂
A very good list of wise and foolish leaders. I like point 2, 6 and 8 for wise leaders. These qualities are core of wise leadership. Character over talent, Effort over outcomes and delegation while retaining responsibility. All these three points have great weight but I think character over talent carries the greatest weight. But unfortunately, it does not have much space at present in organizations. It is either overlooked or less valued. It has greatest weight because it only remains at the last when nothing is there. This provide the lasting and multiplying positive impact on organizations. The arrogance and always right is the most damaging traits of foolish leaders. The fact is that they are fooled by their arrogance that they think is their strength. If they win over arrogance, they will become wise. Arrogance drives almost everything for foolish leaders.
I always question myself: What makes difference between good or bad? And always I arrive at conclusion that it could be its impact in long run. What impact it creates and how long. And I also question- can performance justify actions? That is why Character, concerns and good intentions always have impressive and transformational impact anywhere and everywhere.
Dear Ajay, thank you for focusing on character over talent. I think it’s one of the most neglected areas in choosing leaders/employees. We focus too much on talent, sure it’s important, and too little on character.
Totally appreciate your inclusion of long-term vs. short-term. Choosing character over talent clearly expresses a long-term orientation.
I love today’s challenge. Thank you. A perfect goal for a day.
I look forward to the webinar. It will be fun to actually hear your voice. I hear a voice in my mind when you write. It will be fun to see if that mental voice I have assigned you in any way matches your real voice.
I’m leaning toward including a daily challenge in these posts… something we can keep top of mind for one work day… it helps me.
Today I’m asking myself… How can I best energize others.
Thanks for signing up for the webinar. I’m totally jazzed about it.
Alrighty then! Oh yeah, wisdom a frequently sought after goal rarely attained after great reflection. I heard once it takes a smart man to learn from his mistakes but it takes a genius to learn from the mistakes of others. Is learning from mistakes of others this thing you are calling wisdom Dan? Part of it maybe?
The quality of a leader that carries the most weight in my most humble opinion is the same most important quality of any human being. Passionate, Loving, Honesty! Know that is a trifectca and not trying to mess that up but adding Humor is a must. So my answer to your first question Dan is PLHH!
Please remember I am not a professional writer, just another bozo on the bus, so maybe those are not qualities they are behaviors, whatever! My brain got a little tired as I tried to figure out exactly what they were.
Then I remembered part of where they came from in my mind. Jimmy Valvano’ speech at the ESPY’s. Kinda cool I get to mention that since it is Jimmy V. week on ESPN. Know most reading this have seen that speech and just want you to know you can go to youtube right now and watch it again. DO IT!(Nike reference)(Wonder if any of you actually will DO THAT?)
That Dude was a leader. You think those people at the ESPY’s and those who watched that speech would run through a wall with Jimmy V? He was a Master at PLHH. Don’t trust me on that, go watch his speech.
The most damaging mark of foolishness? Easy, EGO, number 8. Arrogance is such a silly response to the human beings having a spiritual experience. If we all really knew how little we know we would share our humility in evert thought action and deed. In the big picture we do not know squat. That is one reason I like that Fulghram Dude. One thing he says is “carry on by being aware of wonder”. Wowza, can you imagine going through a day doing just that all day long? I can! Even better all the humans you come in contact with are doing the same thing? Heaven on earth!!!!! Not experienced that yet but still a-hoping! LOL Arrogance is the opposite of being aware of wonder. Boo…Boo!!!(Princess Bride reference of what Carol Kane said)! hehe Arrogance is a symptom of a closed mind which is like a parachute, works better when open!
What I can add to the list? Humbly shared, just one simple thing. A True Leader Treats People like he wants to be treated.
Ok two things! Be fiercly committed to finding people doing something right. Some Dude said “most people live lives of quiet desperation”! Ok if true them RECOGNIZE the wonder and great things about the people around you AND TELL THEM!!!!!! People do things to avoid pain or gain pleasure! If you are a pleasure giver in a way you think people are THRILLED to see you and to accomplish things you ask them to do. People also will do things pretty much for two things, money and recognition! Ok stupid, them PAY them or RECOGNIZE them Passionately, Lovingly, Honestly and with a little Humor and see how your days goes and see how you get along with other human beings. That is a cool thing to do and it costs less than Benjamins! It just costs sincerity from you! So you got any? If you got it give it away and be aware of the wonder it gives springs back to you. Juist for me I have found being reaally nice to people feels a whole lot better than being an arrogant creep, man!
Ok will end my bloviating with a quote from The Dude, you know the fella who abides!
“Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man”!
Ok actually just my opinion!
Reblogged this on David A. Vudragovich and commented:
So have I changed or have the standards? In the late 90’s and early 00’s I had a good mix from both lists but still grew companies, lead change, etc.
Today I have fewer foolish qualities simply because I do not have to be right as much and there are less things I am passionate about. But what I am still passionate about, I am more passionate about! Dave
Reblogged this on strengthsessions.
A great post! I liked your caption ‘Wisdom is about behavor and not intelligence’.
A self-introspection reveals that we are in the wise category but we but bosses under the other category. It’s a working life tragedy.
My take-away- Avoid falling under foolish category by practicising good professionalism with a human touch.
Dear Dr. Asher,
Very well said- Professionalism with human touch. It is easier said than done. And this makes a distinction between foolish leaders and wise leaders. Foolish leaders say everything that people want to hear. They also create short term image by showing their superficial and artificial concern,but when it comes to practice, they fail to follow it. These people generally elevate faster in the hierarchy. But faster they go up, faster they vanish from the scene. Do not you agree with me? And wise leaders are do it without saying. They believe in doing, not saying. They face obstacles which become challenging and painful most of the times. But the fact is that they keep on elevating, however slowly but never off the scene.
A good analysis and true to what you have commented. What about the damages done before they get exposed leading to a forceful exit. My industry experience reveals that the management takes long to act on the foolish disastrous marks of leaders since they focus only on the final results neglecting the means to achieve. In the long run of course wise leaders get well recognized but not at the same organization at times!
Dear Dr. Asher.
Absolutely agree and appreciate your insights. There is no doubt about it. In fact there is a great scope to study the damage done by foolish leaders before they are ousted. And we also need to see that how long wise leaders suffer, sacrifice and sometimes humiliated. Here leadership philosophy and decisions comes into questions. And I strongly believe, unless they re-define their definition of success, things will not change. They need to re-look, and questions their talents on whom they feel pride and bet. They could be the worst insider demons.
I appreciate your brave and fair discourse.
Sadly, history is littered with the damaged flotsam and traumatic jetsam of foolish leaders.
Dan, that is a really great list. I think I will go with “Energize People” for the number 1 good quality. Why? Because of a quote from JD Rockefeller “Charles Swaab is worth a million dollar a year salary because he has the unique ability to make everyone feel great.”
For the worst, always being right. Don’t win the fight and lose the person: http://toddliles.com/the-power-in-accepting-personal-responsibility.html
I’m working on “foolish leaders don’t talk enough.” Here’s how I interpret that: a wise leader talks enough to communicate. Talk is a way to interact, share values, ask questions that inform, understand, and become open and authentic. Foolish leaders don’t do enough of this kind of talking. They don’t communicate to understand. They aren’t open or authentic. Sound right?
You mean I have to do TWO things today Dan! Geez, quit raising that bar!! Actually did just ‘finish and move on’ from a project, so am in gear Sir!
Wise leaders also celebrate Dan. They celebrate the successes, the learnings from missed opportunities and they publicly acknowledge (celebrate) their own mistakes and what they learned.
Might consider morphing or adding to #3, from ‘what are we learning?’ to ‘how did you learn this?’ Particularly ‘how’ someone gains not just knowledge, but wisdom, is transferable and a major opportunity. That also, of course, personalizes the experience, can convert a negative moment into a positive, which again can be celebrated and appreciated. (Just tryin’ to bring a little energy here! 😉 )
Hey Doc, I feel the “what we learn and how” is important but perhaps before we get anywhere near there can we find out the “Why?) Nietzsche: ” If we know the why there is no how we cannot bear.” Since we are talking about learning it just so happens that I have been recently “learning” and came across this: ” The wise man learns from his mistakes; the Genius learns from the mistakes of others!” cheers
Wise leaders energize others…I like that. I should be that. Hmm. Thanks, thanks.
That was a great one, but to me; i enjoy your foolish leaders perspective than your comments on wise, i really enjoy your point2 and last one about foolish leaders but i would ve love seeing u adding EGO maybe to point 10 or as a bonus but its all ok!coz ego can still be put under arrogance from past success…you good!thumbs up
Thanks for this nice post. A wise leader empowers and motivates people. A wise leader influences.
This is great!! Thank you.