The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice (Proverbs 12:15).
Leadership is about influence, relationships, real change, shared purpose, and doing the right thing. I agree with Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus that an important part of leadership is a set of skills “that can be learned by anyone, taught to everyone, and denied to no one.” (p. 25)
Learning to develop leadership skills is your responsibility. The ability to self-reflect on your behavior and then to marshal the courage to self-authorize continual change and improvement is the foundation of assuming full responsibility for yourself. As Chris Argyris correctly asserts, there are a lot of “smart” people that are unaware of their unwillingness and inability to learn.
Henry Cloud wisely states that “the fool tries to adjust the truth so he does not have to adjust to it.” (p. 133). Fools often surround themselves with other fools, which renders them unable to recognize and close their integrity gaps. Many leaders deceive themselves into thinking they are wise because they seek the trusted advice of carefully vetted advisers. Unfortunately, advisers that formulate and confirm their advice only with each other can never offer wise counsel.
Fools are reactive listeners. They have “open door” policies and claim to be ever available to answer our questions and concerns. Their feel-good approach to listening rarely leads to substantive learning. We learn very quickly that the orifice of the oracle leader is actually a black hole instead of a source of light.
The wise are proactive listeners that initiate the process of listening with their own questions about what needs to change and how to make things better. The wise are proficient meta-learners, continually improving their ability to know what they know and their capacity to understand how to use knowledge to change their behavior.
Does your leadership development reflect foolishness or wisdom? How do you know? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!