Are You Phronetic? Do You Want to Be?

In our last blog you thought I was a socialist, but I made the argument that Japanese companies do serve a higher social purpose and have gained consumer’s trust and respect. You have to admit that you are still skeptical but intrigued. Today we will learn the first ability of a wise and phronetic leader. According to Nonaka and Takeuchi in Harvard Business Review, a phronetic leader leads with practical wisdom, making judgments and decisions on the fly while considering the higher view of what is good for society. In their decade-long research they found six essential abilities and offer suggestions on how to develop those skills. Wise Leaders Can Judge Goodness Phronetic leaders discern what is good and they act on that judgment in every situation. “Doing the right things, when required, is a calling from on high. Do it boldly, do as you believe, do as you are.” – Eiji Toyoda, Toyota. This calling can only be fulfilled by a leader has a foundation of values and ethics. Of course, what is good and right is also to win profits for your organization but it’s not the only consideration. There are four ways that leaders develop this discernment:

• Experience – particularly that experience gained by adversity or failure

•List and share principles gleaned from life experiences

• Pursue excellence relentlessly

• Study the liberal arts – philosophy, history, literature and the fine arts

One Win, Nine Losses by Tadashi Yanai, is a great book that details his failures and how they eventually led him to become CEO of Japan’s fastest-growing apparel brand. Through his numerous failures he developed 23 principles that he calls the soul of his company.

What is the soul of your organization? What is so worthwhile and worth striving for within your organization? If you don’t know, stop and think. Excellence can’t be pursued if it isn’t defined. How does that excellence serve your community and society?

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