How enlightened leaders reconcile the short and long term Premium

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Even more than smart leaders, the business world needs wise leaders who can leave their comfort zone behind to serve a cause that stretches beyond their own personal interests. How can you develop wise leadership that reconciles short-term business requirements and sustainable growth?


Become an expert who is also visionary
Wise leaders take apposite and responsible decisions: they do not shrink from opportunities but nor do they act recklessly. This practical wisdom is acquired by combining two models of intelligence:
• “Functional” smartness — relates to a leader’s expertise, good sense and rigor; in short, his or her ability to work in depth;
• “Business” smartness — rooted in a leader’s ability to be visionary: knowing how to seize opportunities and being prepared to take risks.

Four skills to develop
Your wisdom is based on your ability to remain true to your own beliefs and stay connected to your environment.
• The art of perspective: be realistic over the short term but keep a long-term vision by opening up to innovative ideas;
• The art of integrity: act in accordance with your values and beliefs whilst avoiding decisions based on impulse;
• The art of decision-making: combine caution and intuition but do not hesitate to call on the wisdom of others;
• The art of fortitude: learn how to cope with obstacles but do not be blinkered: if a project goes wrong, accept it without considering it a complete failure!

Put your personal wisdom at the service of the company
Becoming a wise leader also means enabling others to find the path of wisdom.
• Be responsible: your role within the organization must be clearly defined and re-assessed on a regular basis. The key is to instill a climate that allows all members of the company to thrive in their role and to make constant progress.
• Be willing to exchange ideas: cultivate the values of exchange and collaboration in your team, company and area of expertise. Do not be afraid to turn your competitors into genuine partners!

Wise leadership at Florida Ice & Farm
Ramon Sanchez Mendiola, the CEO of Florida Ice & Farm — Costa Rica’s largest food processing company — decided to incorporate CSR into its business strategy in 2008. The aim was to satisfy customers and to meet new environmental and social standards — a fine example of wise leadership reconciling ethical objectives and business interests.

Read our dossier
How enlightened leaders reconcile the short and long term

Based on, among others, From Smart to Wise, acting and leading with wisdom by Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou (Jossey-Bass, March 2013), “The Wise Leader” by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi (Harvard Business Review, May 2011), and “Florida Ice & Farm : Sustainability Champion from an Emerging Economy” by John C. Ickis, Andrea Prado et Ximena García-Rada (oikos Casee Writing Competition 2013 Corporate Sustainability Track INCAE Business School, Costa Rica).
Business Digest nº 238, July-August 2013.

Watch the video
Wise Leadership

Hirotaka Takeuchi and Ikujiro Nonaka argue that a wise leader acts not only for the good of his or her company but also for the good of society as a whole.