Where Foolish Leaders Become Wise
The pain foolish leaders inflict on teams and organizations is tragic. (The damage foolish leaders cause warrants the uncomfortable term.) But there’s exciting news.
Anyone with average intelligence can develop wisdom.
Wisdom is the ability to achieve noble ends ethically. Wisdom is more about skill than IQ.
Those who attain wisdom gain the ability to get things done and flourish while they do it.
In some cases, talent and intelligence block the pursuit of wisdom.
How foolish leaders develop wisdom
You tip toward wisdom when you:
- Seek wisdom. The first indication of wisdom is the aggressive pursuit of wisdom. Tip: Hang with learners. Avoid know-it-alls.
- Align yourself with authority. Speaking truth to power only works when leaders believe you seek their highest good.
- Don’t take offense. Taking offense points to thin skinned self-importance.
- Clarify before you answer. Fools answer the wrong questions and solve the wrong problems.
- Speak as if your words would appear in the Wall Street Journal.
- Surround yourself with people who have more wisdom than you. If you’re more skillful than everyone at the table, you’re at the wrong table. (Yes, one synonym of wisdom is skill. )
- Maintain enough confidence to make decisions, while questioning yourself as you go. Foolish leaders have closed minds.
- Actively affirm others and share irritations carefully. The only reason to open your mouth is to make something better.
- Consider the impact of your behaviors on others. Wise leaders accept that something as small as facial expressions matters.
- Persistently invite feedback. Wise leaders engage the community in their journey. Fools isolate themselves.
- Explore correction and criticism before defending and justifying yourself.
- Bring joy and energy to others. Foolish leaders drain people. Wise leaders help others flourish.
What are the marks of foolish leaders? Wise?
Once again Dan, great post, so, so true to life. Typing this with a tinge of sadness – “foolish leaders” are probably more prevalent than what others may realise. Have a great day!
Beautiful! “Speak as if your words will appear in the Wall Street Journal.” This applies to emails as well. Dan, this is very good soul food and I’m a vegetarian. Great breakfast this morning!
“Wisdom is the ability to achieve noble ends ethically.” Indeed, civility in leadership equates to maturity, which leads to the ability to discern and act with wisdom. Arrogant narcissism (infantilism) is the opposite.
Dan- the Founder of my former private firm always said that since he was not a good Manager, he had to only hire really good Managers. He did and the company prospered.
He was a Wise Leader!
I do not even want to read this, since it reminds me of so many bad experiences with “leaders” over the past 40 years. Sometimes it is hard to differentiate “foolish” from sociopathic or narcissistic. And some people will simply never see their behavior as a problem, for themselves or for others. One example comes to mind horribly right now.
3.Don’t take offense. Taking offense points to thin skinned self-importance. – I see this a lot and it makes the person look foolish! Listening, being open minded and reacting positively to new ideas, concerns, issues makes you wise!
‘What a fool believes”, what others believe from the fools, a whole lot of foolishness going on, stay clear!
I’ve always thought of intelligence as your ability to gain knowledge and wisdom as your ability to apply the knowledge you already have.
Dan this post reminds me of the Proverb. “Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions. Doing wrong leads to disgrace, and scandalous behavior brings contempt”. Proverbs 18:2-3 I wished more leader understood how others see them.
“Seek wisdom”, so basic and so true. I have been on the giving side of #9, learned the hard way to watch my tone and my expressions. Now I am no longer in the corporate world but coaching little kids. In many ways, the stakes are higher for me now.
This was really good article, My current manager does not do many of the things mentioned in this article and it noticeable. I sometimes had a hard time describing why he drained the work force but the way you simply lined it out through this article it is much easier now for me to describe. This biggest points I took from the article is clarify before your speak. In the corporate world it is common to have a room full of people hear a problem describe and have multiple different connotations of what the problem is after the meeting. I also like to persistently invite feedback. Feedback is not only good to hear as a decision maker but it makes those effected by those decision feel heard and cared form. When it is perceived your feedback is not invited then it creates a terrible work culture.