Wisdom displayed through leadership: Exploring leadership-related wisdom

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Wisdom displayed through leadership: Exploring leadership-related wisdom
The Leadership Quarterly

Theoretical views of the role of wisdom in leadership have varied over time. While early leaders such as Christ and Confucius were perceived as wise and as great leaders effectiveness and efficiency in promoting organizational performance and profits has become the focus of scholarly discussions of leadership in recent times. The lack of wisdom in leadership in such spheres as the global economy calls that focus into question. To address this lack a process definition of wisdom which encompasses three components – (1) cognitive integration (2) embodiment and (3) positive effects – is proposed and tested against textual descriptions of wisdom in leadership contexts. The results of analyses interview transcripts of leaders nominated as wise persons indicate that: 1) incidents of wisdom involved leadership 2) the process definition of wisdom describes the incidents of wisdom leaders reported on and 3) leadership-related wisdom was more likely to be displayed at the societal and at the organizational levels through fulfilling visions solving problems and founding organizations. The results suggest that the scope of leadership-related wisdom often goes beyond individual organizations exerting positive effects to wider areas of society.

The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011) 616–632

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