In today’s corporate world, people in the position of leadership and power are getting younger than ever before. Ambitious young people compete to get to the top of the ladder in a hurry and along the way, they tend to forget one essential skill to achieve effectiveness and greatness.
Wisdom is a key ingredient that young leaders would need in many challenging situations to get them through. It is a skill that nobody can teach in school but it can be learned through self-help books, lessons of others, great leaders and from people with wisdom.
Wisdom is the ability to judge or discern what is true, lasting or right insight. It simply is common sense or good judgment based on accumulated knowledge, experience and learning through the ages that translate into understanding and enlightenment.
Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life.? Sandra Carey quotes
As important as it is to have wisdom in life, it is in being an effective leader. I have seen in the last 20 years in the corporate world how many young leaders have triggered so much unhappiness in the workforce that led to an endless turnover. When leaders do not have the foresight or necessary wisdom, they tend to behave in a rash manner and take actions that are often based on ego or personal agenda. In the long run, it is disruptive to the work environment and highly unproductive. Do not allow your lack of wisdom to create disharmony for fellow colleagues or business associates.
How to achieve wisdom? Is it even achievable?
Wisdom can be achieved when you have the awareness and the humility to accept that your youth has its limitations. However, if you are leading a team, you have a responsibility to develop good habits of thought that provoke reflective thinking. Learn from great thinkers and leaders on their life’s lessons and the wisdom they got out of them.
In his book, “The Essence of Wisdom”, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso said:
“Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need. So long as we practice these in our daily lives, then no matter if we are learned or unlearned, whether we believe in Buddha or God, or follow some other religion or none at all, as long as we have compassion for others and conduct ourselves with restraint out of a sense of responsibility, there is no doubt we will be happy”.
For the youth of today, taking a leadership role is a challenge when it comes to dealing with senior subordinates. There usually is a gap in understanding, where the young leaders may be forward-thinking and ambitious, the senior subordinates may be more cautious and conservative. Learn to respect the wisdom of your team, for they may have come from hard knocks of life and experiences. Never treat with disdain the value of wisdom from older people. Always seek to understand and appreciate others’ views even though that contradicts yours.
Allow me to share this famous and powerful prayer, called Serenity Prayer:
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change,
courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Wisdom in leadership cannot be acquired overnight, however, it can be cultivated through some hard listening and reflecting. You know you have acquired wisdom when you are ready to apply life’s lessons and grow.
Beatrice Cox is a writer and stylist with a passion for the intersection between biology, technology and design. High in Swedish Bali and Heritage, it travels around the world encouraged and informed a global perspective on the future of fashion and its relations with planetary health. She is currently working for a sustainable fashion label in Bali, Indonesia.