“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” is a quote that has been attributed to many people (one being Jimi Hendricks). Regardless of who the actual owner of this phrase is, I’m glad that so many people find it important enough to want to be the brains behind it.
In the current state of the business world, we have intellect nailed. The things that have been achieved through knowledge is remarkable and astounding. We’re smarter, faster and more innovative than ever before… an achievement indeed. But something is missing. We are lacking wisdom.
As a leader, the next step beyond a thriving culture is a Wisdom Culture™. Here are the elements needed to create it:
- Deep Listening and Reflection – You’ve likely noticed a current trend that credits effective leadership with the ability to deeply listen. AND… employees don’t just want to be heard, many times they want to know what will be done by leadership as a result of what they heard. Deep listening is about reflection – of truly taking in what the other human is saying without any bias whatsoever. It’s connecting human-to-human, soul-to-soul. It’s much deeper than agreeing or disagreeing with what someone says. It’s letting that information marinate into your being. Between stimulus (what you hear) and response (what you do), there is space for reflection. This is where your wisdom and the possibilities live. Hold space for the person you are listening to and make space to reflect on and explore its implications.
- Insatiable Curiosity – Questions are powerful. To gain wisdom from them, they must be authentic and heartfelt. Questions have the power to completely change the course of any conversation. You must have experienced that at some point… a conversation where you were confident when you entered it that you would be sharing certain info, and by the end of it you are astonished by the journey you have taken and what has been shared. Fake curiosity smells from a mile away. Real curiosity opens up space for wisdom. More importantly, curiosity coupled with exploration leads to discovery. Try exploring more with whom you are talking. That is where discovery and innovation live.
- Beginners Mindset – A very effective land successful leader that I know still refers to himself as a “leader-in-training.” Wise leaders aren’t stagnant in their learning, in challenging their current thinking or their actions. They are willing to learn and soak in different points of view, take risks and fail. After all, isn’t life in general an “in-training” exercise? Shouldn’t we all be learning until the day we die, and isn’t it more enjoyable to be wowed like a child every now and then? The wonder of children often brings more wisdom than the intellect of adults. As they say, ”Out of the mouths of babes.” Try on some childlike wonder. Life and work are much richer and more fun that way.
- Sharing Mentality – Wisdom Cultures contain leadership team members who wear the dual role of mentor/mentee. Collaboration is ever-present. Only in this space can a leader (and an entire organization) move from success to significance, from immediate gratification to real impact. We are beings built for connection, and when we have a willingness to share and be vulnerable, we multiply our learnings and create communities that live between stimulus and response – again, the very place where wisdom lives.
Wisdom is not a left or right brain experience. It is a heart experience. The more we toggle back and forth among the two hemispheres while at the same time connecting to the power of the heart, the more we show up in an authentic way. Learn from your inner dialogue, make time for silence, ask meaningful questions of yourself and others, explore what those conversations may mean and/or where they may take you, create child-like wonder and open-sharing mindsets, and watch your wisdom (and the wisdom of your organizations) grow. Wisdom Culture versus intellectual culture matters and will support your ability for sustained success as leaders in the marketplace.