Friday, 2 December 2016
I have written frequently about the need for leaders to exhibit character even at the expense of skills. That said, one cannot lead effectively when they are devoid of competencies. This begs the question as to what skills are the most important, not only for a leader, but for the leader’s aspiring leaders.
Clearly the answer will vary depending upon the specific responsibilities of the role; the nature of the products or services you provide; or the type of people who report to the leader. But I would submit to you that there is one skill, one quality, one competence that not only overrides the others but also is transferable to any position. That quality is wisdom.
It is no coincidence that the Biblical King Solomon, when asked what gift he wanted, asked for wisdom above wealth, fame or even good health.
Wisdom is commonly recognized as a combination of knowledge and experience. But a wise person can be identified well before the accumulation of either. Telltale signs include the following:
· A willingness to say ‘…I don’t know…but I want to learn…’
· Someone who listens more than they talk.
· Someone who shares the moment of success.
· The person who pulls others up alongside, not down to their level.
· The ability to have an open mind, but grounded opinions.
· One who is not swayed by the flavor of the day.
Clearly there are other indicators of wisdom even when that wisdom is young. As the leader you want to identify and then nurture these future leaders. Engage them and challenge them to grow into their potential. As your behavior models and guides them, your whole organization will benefit.
Wisdom does not imply infallibility. We all make mistakes or fail from time to time. The wise mitigate the consequences because they made a considered decision to begin with and they don’t ride a mistake to its’ logical conclusion in the misguided hope of a miraculous recovery.
As you build your team of leaders, look for character first. But then seek wisdom. You should not be surprised to see the latter as a function of the former.