From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom

From Smart to WiseWe share reading recommendations when we come across authors whose work is well aligned with what we believe is requried for leader success. This is one of those books we think you will really enjoy because of its depth and practicality. This new book distills practical wisdom for addressing 21st-century business challenges into six key leadership capabilities.

CEO coach and advisor Prasad Kaipa and strategy consultant Navi Radjou have been studying the concept of wise leadership since 1989. Having worked with hundreds of executives in global Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial ventures, they have developed a unique way to assess leadership skills and help leaders to be effective, innovative, and successful.

Based on their research, experience, and insights, these internationally admired thought leaders have written a new book that presents stories of well-known wise leaders, an integrated self-development framework, and step-by-step strategies and tools leaders can use to ignite genius within themselves, their teams, and their organizations.

In From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom (Jossey-Bass, 2013), Kaipa and Radjou present a compelling argument for why intelligence, or smartness, alone won’t be sufficient to deal effectively with the escalating complexity of the 21st century. Rather, what leaders need is practical wisdom—a set of new capabilities that enable them to see the potential benefit in complexity, and to turn it into an opportunity to bring new value to their organizations.

Kaipa and Radjou show why being smart, while exhilarating, can prevent leaders from paying sufficient attention to qualities like prudence, humility, ethics, and the common good.

They identify two broad styles that characterize smart leaders— functional smart and business smart. Functional smart leaders generally excel in one field or function, such as R&D or operations; effective execution, not risk taking, is their forte. Business smart leaders are big picture thinkers, visionaries, and risk takers with a competitive drive. Both styles of smart leadership have great strengths and serious limitations.

The smart leader who evolves into a wise leader, however, is able to discern which kind of smartness is appropriate for a particular situation, and to focus on business specifics and what’s personally beneficial, while simultaneously paying attention to intangibles such as shared values, ethics, and the greater good.

Using real-life stories of leaders who have struggled or excelled in their roles, the authors illustrate how six wise leadership capabilities can be cultivated and applied.

The strategies, insights, and advice in this book enable smart leaders to cultivate wise leadership by learning how to:

  • Shift one’s perspective and connect to a noble purpose. Start thinking holistically and focus on a higher purpose rather than purely on execution or strategy.
  • Act authentically and appropriately. Become fully engaged in the process, yet emotionally detached from the outcome.
  • Lead from any position. Learn when to lead from the front and when to let others lead and take credit.
  • Decide with discernment. Make decisions that are intuitive, ethical, yet pragmatic.
  • Demonstrate flexible fortitude. Know when to hold on and when to let go if the situation calls for it and is aligned with the larger purpose.
  • Cultivate enlightened self-interest. Be motivated to create value and bring benefit to the greatest number of people.

The book includes a self-assessment that enables readers to measure their leadership effectiveness across six key capabilities so they know where to focus self-development efforts. For each of the six leadership capabilities, there are practical question guides, exercises, and other strategies to help leaders delve into, understand, and cultivate new skills.

If smartness was the currency of success in 20th century, wisdom will be the currency of success in the 21st century. Wisdom is grounded in ethics, shared values, and in serving a larger purpose—all of which are important qualities in today’s complex, interdependent world. Wise leadership leverages smartness for the greater good; this is achieved by balancing action with reflection and introspection.

From Smart to Wise shows us how we can achieve greater success and feel more fulfilled by thinking and acting as a wise leader.

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