Wisdom is as much of a driving force in business as youth. Both are equally necessary to advance an organization’s vision. Even the youngest, edgiest fields need balanced decision-making and all established businesses need new ideas and energy.
What are the first images that come to mind when you think about these words? What do you picture for “youth” and “wisdom?” Visualizing youth is probably easy. You might see energy, competitiveness, ambition and obviously — young people. However, wisdom is more difficult to pin down. And there’s everything in between.
This is the first time in our history that we have 5 Generations in our workforce: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y and Z. Never have we faced the challenge to try to align 5 difference age groups, thought processes and value structures into one organization. We must learn to harness the wisdom of every team member, young and old.
When you picture “wisdom,” do you see a guru on a mountain? Maybe it is someone more relatable: a parent, mentor or role model.
Before you truly recognize, first internalize, and make use of the power of wisdom, the first step is defining it. I would say wisdom is a set of skills for obtaining information, processing that information quickly and making educated decisions. Some examples include:
All of these skills enable you to gather information from others, understand the information you receive or act on what you learn. All of them contribute to wisdom.
Anyone can make a decision with no practice at all. I could walk up to the tee on the first hole, pull out my favorite iron and decide to use it on every swing I took that round.
Using the iron for an entire game is a decision. However, it is not a wise decision. In golf, good decisions require knowledge of many different aspects of the game and the tools at your disposal.
You have to know your own ability, the clubs in your bag, the lay of the course and the hazards ahead. When you know all of that — or when you have the skill to gather all of the missing information almost immediately — you’re prepared to make a wise choice in terms of your next shot.
In leadership, it’s the same. Anyone can make a decision, but more wisdom leads to better decisions.
With all that in mind, it follows that more experience often equates to more wisdom. Many wise leaders have developed these skills throughout the course of their careers.
Many younger leaders haven’t had the time to acquire this skill. To get to where they are so quickly, many younger leaders have focused more on hard skills. They are perfectly capable of making decisions and empowered — maybe even pressured — to do so by their positions, but they lack the soft skills to consistently make the best choices.
You need wisdom in your organization, and you need it throughout your organization. This makes your organization as valuable as the hard-skilled, young leaders who drive your processes forward.
The good news is, because wisdom is skill-based, you can practice it at any age. Setting up mentoring practices within your group — formal or informal — helps everyone develop the skills necessary to make wise, informed decisions. That leaves you free to make your own choices about how to move your organization forward.
Are you ready to act and combine wisdom and experience for a meaningful intergenerational collaboration among workers?
Phil Gafka is a recognized leadership speaker, executive coach, and business consultant.
Capitalizing on his experience as CEO of two successful companies and developing leadership performance at a variety of corporate levels, as a Certified Business Coach, Phil focuses on Executive Coaching, Leadership Development and Strategic Business Planning and Culture Development.
Phil has spoken to a wide range of organizations ranging from Audi, Jackson National Life Insurance, and the National Kitchen & Bath Association.
His first book is entitled “Hole-In-One Leadership – 9 Secrets to Mastering the Game of Leadership Greatness” was published in 2019.
2020 was an excruciatingly long year for most of us. The pandemic and remote work and e-learning and on and
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