Will Salyards
Leadership Coaching and Mentoring

Will Salyards, PhD Blog

Life, Career, Leadership

Wisdom Leadership

Making decisions based only on what is visible and measurable, while expedient and perhaps all we think we have, can leave some larger areas unaddressed. In fact, you may have experienced the consequences of actions based only in process and committed to without fully considering people. Could there be a better way? I think there is and it’s called Wisdom Leadership. Wisdom Leadership holds that the matters concerning members are always within a context - a given set of circumstances and expectation - and attempting to decide an issue without first considering people’s goals, values, interests and relationships won’t produce good results.

Using wisdom isn’t something we’re wired to do. The two unconscious processes that help leaders make decisions efficiently, pattern recognition and emotional tagging, can and do work against the use of wisdom. Pattern recognition helps us to quickly recognize what is happening based on patterns that we have observed and remembered. We use emotional tagging when associating an emotion with an experience; doing so tells us whether or not to pay attention to what we see and what to do about it.

These two influence our decision process by distorting the information field in one of three ways: 1) Self-interest biases us to ignore information. 2) Our attachments to people or things clouds our judgment and/or 3) through memories that appear comparable to the present situation but that lead us to inappropriate conclusions. This cognitive filtering creates preconceptions that will predispose us to a course of action without full benefit of all the information available.

Wisdom is how we apply the brakes so as to think again.

The ancients held this kind of wisdom as the specific ability to maintain order and administer justice, i.e., to govern. The discerning or wise leader was one who took into consideration extraneous information such as context as well as the goals, values, interests and relationships at stake before reaching a decision. Here's a look at some attributes of Wisdom Leadership.

  1. You look for what is good over what is expedient.
  2. You strive to grasp the essence of a situation and understand the meaning of people, things, and events.
  3. Your goal is to help others create new meaning.
  4. You are comfortable with metaphor and story and use it to make your experiences into knowledge for others.
  5. You use political power for good ends, namely, to reconcile people with conflicting goals and to spur them to action.
  6. Through apprenticeship and mentoring you encourage the development of wisdom in others.

Does it make sense but you need help implementing it? I may be able to help. Let's talk.