Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Need for Wise Leadership!


It seems self-evident that decision-making has gotten more complex and tricky in the first quarter of the Twenty-first Century. Being smart is certainly necessary but it’s no longer sufficient for the wicked problems we must solve if life on our planet is to be sustainable. 
We are facing the early impacts of runaway climate change, political discourse is becoming increasingly authoritarian, social media algorithms are polarizing opinion and creating “artificial ignorance”, enraged religious and political criminals strike indiscriminately, walls are being built to keep out ‘the other’, new technologies leapfrog each other in breathless utopian anticipation, government and community institutions implode through loss of trust, and business institutions seem more riven by greed than at any time since the fall of the Roman Empire. We may well be on the way to the collapse of civilization, even though we all agree on what to do, and yet we seem incapable of taking action (Oreskes and Conway, 2014).
As Margaret Wheatley (2017) declares with uncharacteristic pessimism, “this world does not need more entrepreneurs. This world does not need more technology breakthroughs. This world needs leaders.” And moreover, leaders who are wise.
The ability to lead wisely has been all but forgotten. All the knowledge in the world did not prevent the collapse of the global financial system and the subsequent unearthing of unconscionable behaviour by our most trusted financial and insurance institutions (Ferguson, 2019). “What is curious”, write management researchers David Rooney and Bernard McKenna, “is that wisdom has been valued by humanity for thousands of years and in all cultures, but it is something that managers, business schools and management researchers rarely mention” (Rooney, McKenna, and Liesch, 2010).
We need to choose wise leaders. But wise leaders are not always charismatic and charismatic leaders are rarely – probably never – wise (Sternberg and Glück, 2019). There is nothing the world needs more right now than wisdom, and those coaches and mentors who can facilitate wise thinking in the leaders they work with.
Business now demands a different kind of leader”, say famed Japanese Management Professors, Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi (2011) in their breakthrough Harvard Business Review article, “one who will make decisions knowing that the outcomes must be good for society as well as the company… they also need a third, often forgotten kind of knowledge, called phronesis, or practical wisdom.”
We need wisdom because intelligence and creativity are not enough for creating a better world. Sternberg (2019) distinguishes between deep wisdom, non-wisdom, and foolishness. People can be highly creative or highly intelligent, they can exhibit quasi-wisdom or pseudo-wisdom, but the six cognitive fallacies of foolishness can be seen in too many of our business, political, and community leaders on the world stage.
Ferguson, A. (2019). Banking Bad. Sydney, NSW: HarperCollins.Oreskes, N., and Conway, E.M. (2014). The Collapse of Western Civilization. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Nonaka, I., and Takeuchi, H. (2011). The wise leader: How CEOs can learn practical wisdom to help them do what’s right for their companies – and society. The Harvard Business Review, May.
Oreskes, N., and Conway, E.M. (2014). The Collapse of Western Civilization. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Rooney, D., McKenna, B., and Liesch, P. (2010). Wisdom and management in the knowledge economy. London: Routledge.
Sternberg, R.J. (2019). Race to Samara: The Critical Importance of Wisdom in the World Today. In: Sternberg, R.J., and Glück, J. (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Wisdom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R.J., and Glück, J. (2019). Why Is Wisdom Such an Obscure Field of Inquiry and What Can and Should Be Done About It? In: Sternberg, R.J., and Glück, J. (Eds.) The Cambridge Handbook of Wisdom. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Wheatley, M.J. (2017). Who Do We Choose to Be? Oakland, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

No comments:

Post a Comment