12 Most Obvious Signs of a Wise Leader

12 Most Obvious Signs of a Wise Leader

We live in an era of haste-based folly.  These are the days of rapid rewards, speed dating, quick trim and slim fast.  As impatience increases, decisions grow more and more short-sighted.  The faster we move, the more likely we are to speak and act without thinking of long-term consequences.

Folly, the opposite of wisdom, can be defined as “a tragic lack of forethought.” I assert that today’s leaders, in all walks of life, are increasingly acting, speaking and making decisions with a short-term focus. This must change or the consequences will be painful.

The surest way to reverse this trend is by applying age-old wisdom to modern times. In all types of organizations, we must swiftly empower those are willing to choose renewable leadership.  In short, it’s high time we find wise leaders.

To assist with this, I offer twelve suggestions on how to identify wise leaders around you:

 

1. They align their actions with their ideals

Wise leaders let internal values rule their calendars, not external influences.   They determine what matters most to them and then live each day accordingly. Wise leaders ask if each choice moves them “closer to” or “farther from” their objectives.  This allows their daily decisions to drive them toward their noblest goals.

2. They take care, not advantage

Wise leaders don’t extract value from others, they exchange value with them. They understand that the key to long term success in an era of empowerment is to intentionally facilitate the success of others. Much like a race track pit-crew chief, a wise leader’s aim is to make others great.

3. They hunt down hope and hand it out

A hopeful voice is a flashlight in the fog. As a result, wise leaders proactively work to protect their team from despair.  They find acorns and describe oak trees. The wise leader whispers possibility into willing ears and then smiles as it blossoms.

4. They model the kindness they hope to see in others

If leaders a’re kind to their team members, they’ll need fewer new ones.  In an age of incivility, workers thirst for courtesy.  Wise leaders know that kindness can transform chaos into collaboration and deliberate kindness from either side of a chasm can build a bridge between two sides.

5. They study their words before setting them free

Wise leaders know when to push their own mute button.  They know the prudent often outlast the indignant.  When tempers flare, they choose introspection.  As a result, the wise leader neither insults when irritated nor pounces when provoked.

6. They prioritize what they “want most” over what they “want now”

Character is built by repeatedly choosing the best option over the easiest one.  They have the foresight to exchange short-term buzz for long-term joy. Though they may show mercy to new mistakes, they always show recurring mistakes the door.

7. They defend principles, not territory

Wise leaders never discard friendship to save face.  Instead, they patiently wait for battles that matter.  The wise leader values the “strength to finish” more than the “minutes between mile markers.”

8. They know when to reason and when to empathize

Sometimes a team needs a logical explanation and other times it needs emotional motivation.  Wise leaders take time to read the room and then they respond in the most helpful manner.

9. They brave each issue before it escalates into an impasse

Victory often requires gracious honesty at pivotal moments.  They understand that truthfulness and kindness are not antonyms, but that truth, when spoken with kindness…is a kindness.

10. They welcome any input that increases their effectiveness

Wise leaders study and avoid the errors of others. They are humble enough to listen and change. The wise leader would rather “Watch and Learn” than “Live and Learn.”

11. They know that vocal appreciation bolsters motivation

In matters of motivation, wise leaders know that meaning is a new form of currency.  Selfish leaders use intimidation, but they choose inspiration instead. The wise leader takes great care to recognize the deserving.

12. They nurture a culture of genuine customer concern

Wise leaders value current customers much more than prospective ones.  They recognize that customer connection is an investment, not a cost. The wise leader knows that every customer comment carries meaning.  As a result, wise leaders proactively capture concerns and use them to drive experience improvements.

 

I hope these attitudes clearly delineate the line between the foolish and the wise.  It is time to find, anoint and appoint those who’ll lead with an eye toward tomorrow.

 

Photo courtesy of Anderson Mancini, used under creative commons. Some rights reserved.

Tristan Bishop

http://knowledgebishop.com/

Tristan Bishop is a serious customer advocate and a super silly daddy. He also drives digital strategy at the world’s top security company, using social media monitoring and Social CRM to capture customer commentary. Specifically, he loves to listen to people and then help them. He aims to leave others inspired, encouraged and moved toward positive action.

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52 comments
Terry
Terry

Tristan, I like your list.  Very practical advice.  I think most people would try to set out to lead by these principles and then when under pressure many of them fall away.  I'm thinking what underpins these to make them sustainable.  For me it's the ability to be mindful, even when under pressure, so that you can be aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions and have the self discipline of these 12 principles.  Thanks for sharing.  Very useful.  Terry

SOLUS_ED
SOLUS_ED

@chri5grant Reminds me of the level 5 leadership that Jim Collins discusses in "Good to Great" where he analyzes orgs with long term success

davidmdye
davidmdye

What a powerful list!

The reminders to take time and focus on value, wisdom, and long term consequences are just what I needed today. #9 needs some love too - too often we are not caring in our attempts to be kind.

Thanks for the great post, Tristan,

David

RSA Course
RSA Course

Number 2 is my favorite " Wise leaders don’t extract value from others, they exchange value with them. They understand that the key to long term success in an era of empowerment is to intentionally facilitate the success of others."

My Mother as a High School teacher is one the best people I have ever seen at intentionally facilitating the success of others.

Latest blog post: RSA Certificate

shawmu
shawmu

@KnowledgeBishop@knowledgebishop Tristan, I'm digging #5. Our words create realities. The deeper we understand this the more thoughtful we become in using our words to enable and not disable people and undo progress.

Kneale Mann
Kneale Mann

Solid list, Tristan! I would add that wise leaders know how to help others become wise leaders.

tedcoine
tedcoine

All great, several brilliant, but my favorite? 7. They defend principles, not territory. If we lead with principles, the right choices will happen seemingly by themselves. I love it! You inspire me, my friend. Keep it up.

danperezfilms
danperezfilms

You forgot one: They have angel's wings, a halo, and shine like the sun. Now we're good...

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

I'd go back to work for someone if I could have THAT boss!

libbytalks
libbytalks

Tristan this post is one I want to print out and hang on the wall by my calendar. I love it! It's perfect and so appropriate as we all seek to learn how to lead from the heart #leadfromwithin, and for me as I try to advise clients who are start-ups and eager to lead well and develop the very best teams. I love all 12 @KnowledgeBishop -- especially, like @PegFitzpatrick #3 THEY HUNT DOWN HOPE AND HAND IT OUT!!! That is so key, every day in every way what we must do as leaders. Thanks, Tristan. this is invaluable advice to us all!

dbvickery
dbvickery

Excellent post, Tristan. Where to begin on what I enjoyed? I really like "Wise leaders know when to push their own mute button", and that is something that generally comes with experience/hard knocks. And I think vocal appreciation can remain sincere yet be consistently applied to make everybody feel better about themselves and strive to achieve more!

I also like defending principles vs territory. Even then, we need to ensure we are actually defending a principle and not our own pride.

BenWoelk
BenWoelk

Awesome and inspiring post! Servant leadership is critical.

Biebert
Biebert

Tristan, this is really a great one. Welcome to the 12 Most Leadership team!

What a great way to kick it off!

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick moderator

Hello and welcome to the 12 Most Community Tristan - super happy to have you here!

Such a great post. I especially love this "A hopeful voice is a flashlight in the fog. As a result, wise leaders proactively work to protect their team from despair. They find acorns and describe oak trees. The wise leader whispers possibility into willing ears and then smiles as it blossoms." Hope is something that seems to be lacking in today's world of rushing from one activity to the next and ticking off the day's until the end of the week without enjoying the time and space that we are in at the moment.

Can't wait to read more from you on 12 Most!!

Postiively,

Peggy

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@RSA Course Wonderful comments. How inspiring that you have a role model like your mother to look up to in this way. Very encouraging! :)

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@shawmu Thank you, Shawn. And, in a meta moment, I find myself motivated toward progress by your kind words!

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

That is an excellent one, clearly missing! Thank you. Fantastic.

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@tedcoine Thank you, Ted! :) If we do the right thing, the rest will follow. Just like your mantra of "enlightened self-interest", where brands who treat customers well end up being profitable.

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@libbytalks Thanks Libby, I always wanted to be on a calendar (back in my "boyband singer" days anyhow).

Yea, @PegFitzpatrick is so right about the essential need for a daily dose of hope.

I appreciate your encouragement Libby. I'm glad these thoughts are helpful!

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@dbvickery Thanks for your kind words! Yes, even when defending Pronciples, one must stay vigilant that wounded pride doesn't distort perspective. Hard to do, but well worth it! Grateful for for your input.

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@PegFitzpatrick Thank you, Peggy. Hope is like oxygen or water. Without it, we can't live long. Wise leaders like you know to find and bring it! Delighted to be here with you all.

KnowledgeBishop
KnowledgeBishop

@dbvickery And I can't fathom why my IPhone autocorrect wants to defend "Pronciples" - Sounds like a shrimp Popsicle. :)

PegFitzpatrick
PegFitzpatrick moderator

That was very kind Tristan. We are thrilled to have you. :D

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