Following from the post on wisdom and leadership (here), we have been reviewing the work on what wise leaders do when faced with challenge, threat or a significant issue. Again we lean heavily on published research on wisdom and coping and on resilience – things I have written about in other contexts (see, for example, Coping with Crisis and Helping the Troubled Child). This is a rich literature and here we focus on highlights.
When faced with a significant challenge or opportunity, wise leaders:
- Distance Themselves for a Period of Time – (several minutes, a few hours or a day or so) so that they can reflect on the situation, re-frame a negative into an opportunity and refocus their own thoughts on what may now be needed and who may now be most helpful. We can call this “stopping before we start”.
- Show Courage and Act – they respond to their “re framed” view of the situation and act boldly and decisively, showing responsiveness to the emerging situation and the people engaged in it while all the time showing responsible leadership.
- Reflect and Learn – when the situation begins to shift and the “crisis” or “challenge” lessens, the wise leader begins a process of refection and learning which helps them becoming prepared for the next time something happens. This is not a passive process – they seek reaction from others and from mentors.
- They Thank Others – they recognize and acknowledge in a very genuine way the contribution others have made to moving the organization along.
When faced with a threat, challenge or change how do you respond?