Journey to Wise Leadership: Choosing the Heart’s Path
Wisdom Development – Knowledge without meaning, and analysis without synthesis have all resulted in imbalances that ultimately have been destructive to leaders and their teams.
Wisdom cannot be acquired through a two-day training. We cannot say, “Memorize this or read that and you will be wise.” An individual can read the world’s best books on any subject or go to university to be educated, yet not reap any wisdom. While the accumulation of knowledge may allow someone to become smart, wisdom is brought forth more delicately. It can be cultivated by our practices and priorities while leading.
The question then surfaces: What can we do to develop wisdom?
Stage One: Your Leadership Story – Accelerating oneself on the path to wisdom can take several stages. The first stage has to do with stories. When leaders have the opportunity to tell their stories, these stories have a liberating effect and assist wisdom’s emergence. Voicing and listening to personal stories begins a deeper understanding of oneself.
Stage Two: Observing Experiences – Our stories arise from our leadership experiences. Wise leaders seek to fully observe every experience. Sense-making, Maureen Duffy writes, is “how people make sense out of their experience in the world.” Our choices help make us the person we are. We then review the experiences that have emerged from those choices. Determining “meaning” from our experiences is fundamental to our wisdom development.
Stage Three: Self-Awareness Through Self-Inquiry – Developing wisdom requires we move from observing our objective and subjective experiences to using them to gain self-awareness. That awareness requires that we question many different conscious aspects of ourselves. These include our physical reality, what we imagine for ourselves, our emotions, thoughts, how we react unconsciously, and even our essence or “soul.” Each of these aspects shapes our leadership identity.
Stage Four: Depth of Understanding Through Self-Reflection – Examining our experience uncovers the “why” or the cause of the experience. Investigating our experiences to understand our contribution to creating, promoting, or allowing any particular experience helps us gain a depth of understanding—wisdom begins when we clarify our perceptions and any projections that may cloud our perceptions.
Stage Five: Intuitive Insight Through Deep Listening – Intuitive insight comes from deep listening. Holding still and allowing intuitions to emerge is one of the most challenging actions a leader can take. At first, it will seem that the leader is doing nothing. In actuality, the leader is doing NO THING. This process creates fertile ground for intuitive insights to emerge. Starting with data and analysis is beneficial, but synthesizing intuitive insight provides a greater perspective of the actions available.
Stage Six: Wisdom Moments are Transcendent – Often the outcome of the wisdom development is something I refer to as a moment of wisdom or a “wisdom moment.” This moment feels somewhat like the proverbial “Aha” moment. Does it mean we have transcended and are now wise leaders? No, it does mean we are firmly on the journey to wise leadership. The process of becoming wise is ongoing and has no end.
PeopleSavvy has implemented a 30-year study of wisdom development. This process facilitates each leader in developing their own innate wisdom. We work with senior leaders individually or in small groups. We use a small group process when working with emerging leaders. If you’d like to know more, please contact us for a free discovery call. Please use the Contact form on this website.
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