How is it that we have access to more data than at any time in the history of our species, and yet wisdom seems to be in such short supply? Perhaps it’s because, in spite of our super-sized efforts to stack “fact” upon “fact,” on the premise that more is better, wisdom isn’t a volume game . . . it’s a vision game.
- Wisdom requires the ability to see what is most important, sometimes in spite of the overwhelming reams of information at our disposal. (Ever experience the wisdom of a child that cuts through all the superfluous stuff to identify a foundational truth? Yeah . . . that).
- Wisdom is confident enough to look for points of connection that perhaps have not been considered before because they resided in different “boxes,” in our own or someone else’s mind.
- Wisdom casts its eye past “knowing” in search of understanding, past sides toward seeking solutions. And that’s a whole lot harder that solely focusing on a single set of facts.
I am certainly not suggesting that leadership doesn’t require a baseline level of knowledge or experience to competently carry out our responsibilities. I think it does. And yet, past a certain point, adding volume may contribute to an increase in accumulated knowledge . . . but that is not the same as an increase in wisdom. It is easy to convince ourselves that smarter = wiser, however smart is about intelligence, wisdom is about judgement. Two very different things.
There are lots of really smart people in this world. Surround yourself with them. Learn from them. Just remember, your job as the leader isn’t to be the smartest person in the room, it is to seek out the wisest solutions for your organization. Wisdom requires you to consider a range of variables and perspectives, and then to run that information through the sieve of your own experiences and insight (that is, your best judgement) to bring into focus the best path forward. Not the most popular. . . or the easiest path . . . or the one with the greatest amount of supporting documentation.
Wisdom isn’t a volume game. It’s a vision game. And we need more leaders on the team.