Profit as a Result vs. a Goal; Wise Leadership

There are many forms of leadership “how to” but far too few successful leadership shared experiences. Personally, I’ve learned more about leadership from failure and shared experiences than I have from books. That is why I love to share!

Here’s a dose of what’s inspired me today.. I hope it inspires you in-turn.

“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 … from failing” say Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka, professors from Harvard Business School and Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo. With today’s rapid change, increasing complexity, and high levels of uncertainty and ambiguity, knowledge is not enough and many leaders are finding it difficult to reinvent their organisations quickly enough to adjust.

For leaders to cope in today’s fast paced and ever changing world they need to help their teams and organisations to convert knowledge to ‘practical wisdom’.

I’ve listed below the highlights & inspirations from this brief 10m Harvard Business video of Professors Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka talking about Wise Leadership.

  • Values & moral purpose based.. both economical & societal
  • Idealistic pragmatism; stretching your moral purpose intent on reaching what appears to be impossible
  • When profit is a result instead of a goal, you undoubtedly provide a common good
  • John Chambers (CEO @ Cisco) role in promoting “leading from the middle” by fostering teamwork & collaboration.. connecting communities of distributed leaders.. creating a distributed idea engine where leadership develops organically & unfeathered by a central command.
  • Judgement over Decision; Decision is the simple act of information processing, whereas Judgement equals sensing the context behind phenomena which is often invisible. Far too often we think all we need to do is make decisions.. but had we applied judgement first, how would we have made different decisions?
  • Practical pursuit of the ideal; phronesis is the ancient Greek word for wisdom or intelligence. Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka state it when defining Wise Leaders through “the habit of making the right decisions and taking the right actions in context (judgement) along with the relentless pursuit of excellence for the common good.
  • The value of engagement & apprenticeship; how are you increasing engagement & fostering apprenticeship in your organization?
The Six Roles of Wise Leaders (summary by Leanne Ansell-McBride)

1. Philosopher; Wise leaders practice moral discernment and can assess and judge goodness in every situation and build this capability in others.

2. Master Craftsman; Wise leaders grasp the essence of an issue and are able to act decisively.

3. Idealist; Wise leaders create environments which breakdown hierarchical barriers and enable senior executives and employees to learn from each other.

4. Story Teller; Wise leaders use stories and metaphors to convert the essence of their actual experiences into tacit knowledge for individuals and groups.

5. Politician; Wise leaders exercise political power, understand the viewpoints and emotions of others and leverage these to achieve success.

6. Teacher; Most importantly, wise leaders foster distributed leadership by sharing their knowledge and wisdom.  They show a balance between self confidence and humility and are comfortable sharing powerful, personal lessons of failure.  They encourage teams to work together to review successes and failures, and learn from work.  They allow others to shadow them to “learn about practical wisdom by observing an exemplar’s behaviour” say Nonaka and Takeuchi and they use “formal system[s] of apprenticeship, which allow mentors to share experiences, contexts, and time”.

How wise is your leadership? What can you learn from this BIG idea?

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