Can You Pass the First-Rate Intelligence Test?

In Harvard Business Review, the authors of The Knowledge-Creating Company shared the six abilities of wise and phronetic leaders.  Nonaka and Takeuchi explained that the gulf between theory and practice of business ethics occur due to the great divide between what top management preaches and what the frontline employees actually do.  Do you find this to be a problem at your organization?  It is probably easier to ask who doesn’t have this problem.  The authors share 6 abilities of wise, phronetic leaders that can guide you and your organization to a shared vision that yields a sustainable competitive advantage.

The fifth ability of a wise leader is to exercise political power, spurring people to act in concert with a single-minded pursuit of their goals.  As a leader, we must use all of our means to understand the emotions and viewpoints of those involved through careful observation and communication.   The goal is not to reach compromise, but to find a higher level through imagination and vision.  F. Scott Fitzgerald encapsulates this goal, “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

Yanai of Fast Retailing is putting this contradiction into practice.  He has visioned 200 next-generation leaders for his company, the fastest growing apparel brand in Japan.  Half of these future leaders will be Japanese, half of those from current employees; half will be geniuses and the other half just regular folks.  Yanai sees this leadership pool transcending the contradictions they inherently bring and transforming into globally minded perfectionists who understand how to leverage both the good and bad in human nature.

What contradictions have you dealt with in your organization?  Were you able to leverage them for understanding and greater success?


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