The 9 Ways That Wise Leaders Differ From Smart Managers

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Dec 3, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

Are you decisive, or do you often second-guess yourself and agonize over decisions until opportunities pass?

Do colleagues and clients often ask your opinion because of your reputation for giving great advice? Do you frequently get feedback on the quality of your insights and decisions — and do those decisions produce the results you intend?

Like artists, wise leaders focus, analyze, and study a subject. Then they decide and act.

And even then, as Oswald Chambers put it:

It’s never wise to be cocksure.”

The differences between smart and wise leaders

Consider the following nine (9) differences between smart managers and wise leaders:

  1. Smart managers have information, facts, or skills. They may even show mastery of a craft, job, or topic. Wise leaders have superior mental capabilities. They know how to apply their information, the facts, or their skills to a specific situation at the right time, in the right way, for the best outcome for all concerned.
  2. Smart managers often try to lead people from the simple to the complex. Wise leaders most often try to break the complex down to the simple.
  3. Smart managers take things apart to analyze. Wise leaders put things together to conclude and apply
  4. Smart managers like to do things their way. They tend to place great trust in their own expertise. Wise leaders like to get input from several trusted sources. They listen with an open mind and weigh facts and ideas before rushing to accept or reject them as valid.
  5. Smart managers know when to be abstract to avoid offense, blame, or questions. Wise leaders know when an ounce of specificity is worth a ton of abstraction.
  6. Smart managers communicate directly and frequently. Wise leaders communicate directly, frequently, consistently, tactfully, and compassionately.
  7. Smart managers practice self-discipline and expect their staff to do the same. Wise leaders understand why they practice self-discipline and inspire their staff to do the same.
  8. Smart managers do things rightWise leaders do the right things.
  9. Smart managers always know how to do things. Wise leaders always know why to do things.

This was originally published on Dianna Booher’s Booher Research blog.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.