Strategy. Innovation. Brand.

Wisdom and Leadership

I just re-read a terrific 1998 Harvard Business Review article by Daniel Goleman titled, “What Makes a Leader?” Goleman argues that, while experience and IQ are important, it’s emotional intelligence that makes the crucial difference.  Managers without emotional intelligence tend to maximize only their own performance. Managers with EI tend to maximize their performance and their followers’ performance.

What struck me about the article was that the five components of EI are very similar to the five components of wisdom that we discussed back in April.  Here’s how Goleman defines the components of EI:

  • Self-awareness — knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses and their impact on others.
  • Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting disruptive emotions
  • Motivation – being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement, a passion for work and challenges
  • Empathy – considering others’ feelings, especially when making decisions
  • Social skill – managing relationships to move people in desired directions, persuasiveness, expertise in building teams

And here’s what we said about wisdom:

  • Willingness to resolve conflicts;
  • Willingness to compromise;
  • Recognition of the limits of personal knowledge;
  • Awareness that a given problem may legitimately be seen from different perspectives;
  • Understanding that things may get worse before they get better.

There’s not a complete overlap but the two lists are very similar.  My conclusion: it takes a lot of wisdom to be a good leader.  Now, the question I’d really like to understand is, how do we teach wisdom?

2 Responses to Wisdom and Leadership

  • Travis- I think that wisdom or EI is hard to teach. I think this needs to be learned from other leaders who lead by example. You were a good mentor to me in this regard.

  • Hi Kristin — Thanks so much. That’s a very touching compliment. Cheers, Travis.

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