Wisdom and vulnerability are not often linked, in particular around leadership. Glenn Llopis, writing for Forbes, begs to differ!
Throughout my life, my father would often remind me: “If you enrich your mind with meaningful knowledge each day, it will grow stronger – if you put it to the test, it will grow wiser.” Wisdom guides our thinking, attitude and overall mindset. It pushes us to break through boundaries, and to see beyond the obvious. It directs our personal reinvention and how our leadership influences everything and everyone we come into contact with each day.
As leaders, one of our primary responsibilities is to maximize the potential of the people we serve and allow them to discover their own wisdom. We mustn’t encourage them to always follow and be guided by the wisdom of others.
Becoming wiser means allowing others to become wiser too. Are you creating distinction for your leadership by enabling your employees to share their own thoughts and perspectives and be original too? Everyone sees the world and their place at work differently. Do you expect others to mimic your thinking or are you courageous enough to let them create their own distinction?
Why is cultivating wisdom in the workplace so important? During a time when businesses and brands are attempting to break free from the status quo and reinvent themselves – two factors are different today than at any other time in modern history: 1) The speed of change: What may be relevant today, may be extinct sooner than you might think; and 2) The cultural demographic shift: that it’s becoming less about the business defining the individual and much more about the individual defining the business.
These two factors, especially when combined, require us as leaders to cultivate more wisdom in the workplace. Let’s face it, we don’t have all of the answers – and when we think that we do, the marketplace tells us otherwise. Diversity of thought fuels wisdom. Are you courageous and wise enough to accept this fact? Those not afraid to be more vulnerable will take ownership of this mindset and leadership of this new normal.
Like many immigrants, my father was forced into survival mode. Having lost his mother country to Castro’s revolution, he had to renew and reinvent himself in America. Listening to my father’s story was like taking a course in survival.
It was my father who taught me the importance of accumulating wisdom – and how to go about it by being hungry to learn and courageous enough to disrupt the status quo. I also learned from him to embrace reciprocity in relationships and to respect those whose purpose was to make those around them better – and that success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue.
One leader who understood this was the great USC Trojans Football coach Pete Carroll. Listen as he discusses how he discovered his philosophy and approach as he delivers the Commencement Speech for the USC Marshall School of Business (6:45 to 10:00).
As you think about your own leadership journey, here are five things to consider to help you cultivate wisdom in the workplace:
1. See Strength In Being Vulnerable
Recently a Fortune 10 executive asked me, “Why do we need to be vulnerable? Doesn’t that make me look weak? Doesn’t it minimize my clout?”
Historically, being vulnerable as leader was viewed as a sign of weakness, because of the traditional workplace that put too much of a premium on job titles. Leaders that are too proud, restrict their employees and colleagues from cultivating wisdom. But in today’s business climate, the speed of change forces us as leaders to bring others into the fold, much quicker. The speed of change in the marketplace requires us to share challenges we wouldn’t have in the past and to be more transparent so that others don’t get blindsided and momentum is not disrupted. As such, being vulnerable is a sign of strength in the 21st century leader.
For example, in the article, Inside Boeing’s Plan to Tap Workers’ Competitive Drive to Fight Off Airbus, Ray Conner, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the following:
“We have changed and we are changing. The competitive mindset you have to have is really critical. You have to share things you wouldn’t have shared before, bring the reality of the marketplace you were afraid to do, reluctant to do. These are not the kinds of conversations that we’ve had with work force all the way to factory floor. We’re bringing the whole game to them so they can understand exactly how they fit into the entire system. That’s the mindset we’re trying to create around this place. That’s not the mindset that has existed around here before.”