Four Key Indicators of Wisdom

The word leader is almost always modified by an adjective. We talk about becoming great leaders or visionary leaders or effective leaders or relational leaders, and all of those are worthy goals.

Here’s one type of leader that we don’t hear as much about but that we should all try to become: a wise leader.

Solomon is a great example of a wise leader. Wisdom was the particular gift he requested from God, and it was granted. While we hear much more about the leadership traits of his famous father, King David, it was Solomon who built the Temple and expanded ancient Israel’s borders to their furthest point.

What defines a wise leader? Here are four key indicators.

  1. A wise leader thinks holistically.

We often zero in on one or two key markers of success, such as increased revenue or market share. That can create tunnel vision, even in a good leader.

A wise leader is able to see the whole picture and balance the relative value of things like revenue, productivity, morale, and public perception.

Wisdom means seeing the whole picture.

  1. A wise leader thinks long-term.

The surest sign of a failing organization is that the leader grasps for short-term results at the expense of long-term health.

A wise leader looks for long-range outcomes, often sacrificing short-term gain to produce them.

Wisdom means working toward a larger goal.

  1. A wise leader takes reasonable risks.

The term reasonable risks may seem oxymoronic, but it’s not. Foolish leaders will either take reckless risks hoping for a big payout, or avoid risks altogether. Either strategy will fail eventually.

A wise leader realizes that all progress involves risks, so he or she is willing to take them. However, this leader carefully evaluates the possible gain from success versus the possible impact of failure on the organization.

Wisdom means taking occasional leaps of faith.

  1. A wise leader makes frequent deposits.

Foolish leaders make only withdrawals from their accounts—finances, team morale, brand equity, personal health. That leads to the eventual bankruptcy of the leader, the team, or the organization.

A wise leader makes frequent deposits in the well-being of every key “account” so there is strength to draw from when needed.

Wisdom means giving more than you take.

What about you? How have you seen wisdom—or foolishness—show up in your leadership? What advice would you give to a young leader just starting out?

I’d love to hear your answer on Facebook or Twitter.







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With more than 40 years of leadership experience, Stan Toler knows what it takes to empower people to reach organizational and personal goals. He cuts thrugh the mystery and confusion and provides clear guidelines to help you accomplish vital leadership tasks, including…

defining your vision, developing your plan, and communicating clearly to help people buy in to your shared goal overcoming common leadership challenges to create a culture of success building strong relationships and effective teams that make working hard worthwhile.

You’ll find all the tools, tips, and practical guidance you need to help individuals and groups reach their highest potential and fulfill their God-given purpose.