“In today’s environment, hoarding knowledge ultimately erodes your power. If you know something very important, the way to get power is by actually sharing it. “~Joseph L. Badaracco, John Shad Professor of Business Ethics at Harvard Business School

The sixth and final ability of wise leaders is to foster practical wisdom in others.  It must be distributed throughout the organization with employees at all levels trained in its use.  This distributed leadership is in fact one of your greatest responsibilities.  Soichiro Honda received some practical wisdom in the 1970’s when Honda was creating a low-emissions auto engine.  He declared that this development would beat the “Big Three” in the Unites States.  His employees asserted they were fulfilling their social responsibilities and this was for their children.  Honda was so ashamed he decided to retire.  He had lost the phronetic and higher purpose of his organization’s calling, but his subordinates were fulfilling that purpose.

This fostered phronesis allows for a structural option of using many teams to work, learn and make wise decisions concurrently.  This enables organizations to respond flexibly and creatively to any situation.  Here in America we can see this difference at Target vs. Wal-Mart.  Target employees are empowered to make decisions in the check out lane.  They can check a price, ask the customer what the list price was, and enter the price on the spot.  As a result, their lines move quickly.  At Wal-Mart a customer can languish in line while a manager comes to correct prices.

This decision-making and wisdom can be found with mentors and exemplars, and even with formal apprenticeships.   Do you have a system in place to share wisdom?  Have you established a mentoring program?  Please let us know how you have fostered practical wisdom in your organization, or if we can help you do that and create the next generation of wise and phronetic leaders in your organization.


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