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The “Other” Competence of Leadership

I have the good fortune to work with some amazingly competent people.  Most of my clients are at the top of their field.  They have earned advanced degrees.  They are very highly compensated. They are at the top of their game. The are remarkable leaders. And, they hire very smart and skilled people to work for and with them.  Every day I am impressed by their brightness, curiosity and ability to master very difficult content.

 

But, there is another competence that is not as widely possessed, even among the best and the brightest. Almost everyone could benefit greatly from expanding their WISDOM.  Wisdom is an interesting concept.  The dictionary defines wisdom as, “The quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action, sagacity, discernment, or insight”.  Wisdom is different from intelligence or professional skill.  Wisdom has to do with insight, balance, proper judgment and appropriate action.

 

I find that many people suffer from a lack of wisdom. Some of the common symptoms are:

  • Excessive focus on one’s self without the ability to balance self-interest with the interest of those around you.
  • Preoccupation with issues that are petty and insignificant while missing the bigger picture.
  • The need to be recognized and rewarded rather than focusing on how to be useful.
  • Interpersonal squabbles that interfere with the ability to optimally collaborate.
  • Hording resources rather than fairly sharing the results of success with those who helped to create it.
  • The need to be perpetually busy such that life-balance is sacrificed.
  • Overvaluing material possessions and external success over quality of character.
  • Excessive anxiety rather than a state of calm, trust and peace.
  • Undervaluing the commitment, assistance and devotion of loved ones and coworkers due to preoccupation with one’s goals.

 

Being skilled is only half of the game. Wisdom is necessary for sustainable success.  Wisdom keeps you focused on the big picture.  Wisdom provides the balance necessary for successful leadership.  Wisdom liberates one’s skills to be used in the most effective manner.

 

Companies hire me to help develop the wisdom of their leaders and potential leaders.  They aren’t always fully conscious in that decision.  But, they come to recognize the value of their skilled people having new and wiser conversations.

 

One CEO shared a coaching success story. One of his junior leaders seemed to have changed completely.  He used to complain of being undervalued and under-compensated.  He was a bit negative and whinny.  Now, he is actively seeking projects where he can make a positive difference, even projects that aren’t “sexy” or noticed by others. He doesn’t seem concerned at all about recognition and reward.  Instead, he seems satisfied to be creating positive change throughout the organization.

 

Then, he said something that was really interesting. “When it is time to distribute equity, he is at the top of my list.  He is exactly the kind of person we want to keep and promote.  He is the future of our Firm.  If you can help all of my employees to be like him, our organization will be transformed.”

 

Wisdom is tremendously important. You may sense the need for greater wisdom in your life.  Or, you may see the need for more wisdom in your organization. This is what we do. Please ask us to help.

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About Jack Skeen

Jack Skeen
Jack Skeen, founder of Skeen Leadership, has been coaching bright and successful leaders for close to two decades, spending thousands of hours addressing every imaginable leadership, business and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

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