Watch Wisdom Work

by  Glen Gaugh  |  Leadership Development


Great leaders are like excellent chefs. A little bit of this, a pinch of that; a touch of this, a whole lot of that, then… great things happen!

When leadership is at its most effective and impressive, it is because of the element of wisdom. Evangelist Doug Klinedinst said, “The thing that makes wisdom wise, is that it works.” An action or decision on the part of a leader may seem simple, insignificant, or counter intuitive – but if it works, it’s wisdom at work. Consider these aspects of wise leadership:

  • Intuitive- the leader feels in his gut he is doing the right thing.
  • Informed- she gathers information, asks questions, restates, and clarifies, until she is satisfied.
  • Instructive- he communicates, educates, informs, and trains his team in the vision, preparing them for what it will take to win the prize.
  • Infused- with enthusiasm, she sells the vision until the vision belongs to everyone involved, and as one, the team acts and accomplishes what the leader has set out before them.

Watch wisdom work- and understand that you can lead with wisdom as well. Five elements are definable in wise leadership:

  • Principle– The bedrock of leadership is in the principles that are espoused and expressed. Predetermined principles used in decision making ensure long-term effectiveness.
  • Process– Ron Edmondson described one process he uses in his church as “A paradigm by which to apply wisdom to a situation.” Whether clearly defined or evident only to keen observers, process is present in wise leadership.
  • Passion– I’m tired of dispassionate discourse, and ready for a passionate course. Passion is the drive to act when the talk is exhausted. It is consuming and contagious. Passion drives a leader to action and inspires others to follow. It is essential to leadership.
  • Perspective– raises the sights of others to see beyond the immediate and into the infinite. The Apollo 11 mission, and the steps of Neil Armstrong, gave perspective to our existence and impact here on Earth. Leaders provide perspective, especially in tough times.
  • Personal Accountability- leaders need a perspective on themselves. An extra pair of eyes, two listening ears, and a multitude of wise words from a trusted and respected other, keep the wise leader grounded as a leader and a person.

As a leader in your sphere, do you acknowledge and appreciate wisdom in leadership around you? In a word, what would define a shift toward wisdom in life and leadership for you?

Photo 2012 by Glen Gaugh

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What People Are Saying

Jon Mertz  |  14 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Glen, I believe you mixed in a great recipe for wisdom in leading. Unfortunately, many get distracted and put in ingredients that may things look sweeter but this mix wears off quickly. Remaining focused on the elements you outlined will help us be wise in our choices and actions. Thanks! Jon

Glen Gaugh  |  14 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment, Jon. Simplicity is what stands out to me when I see wise leaders; leadership seems effortless, even when that leader verbalizes that something is difficult. I think there is an art to cutting out those “sweetners” and being at ease with who you are that goes along with simplicity. That kind of leader is very attractive to followers and produces other leaders.

Thanks again!

Christina Lattimer  |  15 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Insightful article Glen – I particularly like how you’ve described wisdom. I think we’re coming into the era of wisdom and you’ve described succinctly the balance between tapping into intuition while also remaining aware of external reality and using both sources of information to make decisions. A combination I think which can be enlightening – or wise! – thanks again:


Glen Gaugh  |  15 Sep 2012  |  Reply

Thanks Christina! I think to sum up wisdom, you have to say integration is the essence of it. Knowledge, experience, head, heart, and how all of it is used to make decisions based on principle. I’m fascinated by it! Thanks for reading!

Karin Hurt  |  15 Sep 2012  |  Reply

It is so inspiring to be around wise leaders who bring out the wisdom in others.

Glen Gaugh  |  15 Sep 2012  |  Reply

I agree! It is really something to watch and learn from. Especially the apparent ease with which those leaders handle tough situations. Thanks Karin!

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