The Ex-US President, Herbert Hoover, said “Wisdom consists not so much in knowing what to do in the moment, as knowing what to do next”.
It’s an interesting concept, this ‘wisdom’ thing, when it comes to management. Having knowledge of how to manage is great, and many managers skip developing themselves simply because they feel they don’t need to know anything else. It’s not that they know it all (most managers will admit that), but they know enough.
Wisdom is the ability to use that knowledge correctly. You’ll recall the story of the western manager who went to the eastern guru to ask him the age-old question of the meaning of life. The guru answered the manager’s questions, to which the manager would say, “Yes, but I’ve tried all that and still haven’t found the answers.”
The guru starting filling an empty glass from a jug of cold water. He filled the glass and didn’t stop. The water overflowed onto the table. The guru just kept on pouring from the jug into the overflowing glass.
The manager shouted, “Stop! Stop! The glass is full, it won’t take any more!”
To which the guru replied, “This glass is like your mind. It cannot take in any more wisdom until you empty it of the old knowledge already there”.
The point is a fine one. The person who thinks he knows everything has a lot to learn!
Wisdom is making the best use of knowledge, developing the ability of discernment. It gives a person a form of insight into what to do in certain situations. Insight is a depth of view into character or circumstances with a level of understanding not enjoyed at a shallow level.
One way you can test a manager’s wisdom is to see their ability to recognise a problem before it becomes an emergency. Knowledge will give you the facts you need so you won’t freeze when in decision-making mode. Wisdom will assist you in developing the skills to see beyond the problem and carry out the necessary actions without resorting to conditioning and retro thinking.
You can check out management and supervisory promotion prospects by identifying how people react with the knowledge they have. The knowledge gets them to first base; wisdom helps them to see how they can get to all the other bases. Add wisdom to the knowledge and you get a manager who has the skill to take on the world, and win!
Originally published: 13 June, 2012
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