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The Wise Leader

July 7, 2011

Harvard Business Review published an article by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotake Takeuchi on The Wise Leader. It’s the newest “Big Idea”. I’m pleased. For almost 3 decades I’ve written on wise leadership in guiding organizational transformation, managing complex change, the invisible sides of leadership, and the relationship between spirit and business.

Wise leaders use a multi-dimensional leadership to inspire and guide wise decisions whether these are in service of the family, a hi-tech firm, or a start-up. Wise decisions include the multiple bottom lines of people, planet and profit (to put it the most simply) and look out at the ripples of long term consequences. Wise leaders appreciate what’s worked, maintain and build on that. They want to know what makes us strong and how to do more of that.

Nonaka and Takeuchi speak to why wisdom is important at this time: “In an era when discontinuity is the only constant, the ability to lead wisely has nearly vanished. All the knowledge in the world did not prevent the collapse of the global financial system three years ago or stop institutions like Lehman Brothers and Washington Mutual from failing.”

They go on to explore why knowledge doesn’t result in wise leadership.

As I reflect on the wise leaders that I’ve met, knowledge is only one dimension of their wisdom – it leaves out the body, the capacity to love, to feel, to include, to collaborate. It leaves out attention to what is emerging, ready to be born. And guiding what needs to die with grace.

How are you a wise leader? I’d love to know.


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