A Prescription for Being A Wise Leader

Because it is Christmas Eve I am fairly confident that if you are reading this post at all, you are in one of three places:

  1. At work regretting not saving one more vacation day this year.

  2. Others assume you are working, but that you have scheduled yourself at an “offsite meeting” of undisclosed location.

  3. On vacation, but just couldn’t help yourself and had to check your email because it is a Monday morning.

No matter where these thoughts find you this day, I want to note that this post is a little different than my usual organizational leadership musings. So, you have been warned.

Perhaps this is because as I am writing this my own heart and mind are turning to the Christmas holiday and the precious time my wife Kim and I will get to spend with our kids, their spouses, and my adorable granddaughter. However, our time with our family will not start until later on Christmas Day when our daughter and her husband arrive at our home in Florida.

This means that today, on Christmas Eve, if you are opening this post early, Kim and I will be at the gym for our morning workout. If you are reading midmorning I then will be having a brunch meeting with my good friends Bob and Pat who serve in ministry at Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU). Or, if you decided to sleep in and are reading this later in the day, I will likely be off to a matinee with Kim before we head to our Christmas Eve service at church.

I have to admit that one of my favorite church services all year is Christmas Eve. 

One thing I really I love about the Christmas Eve service at almost any church I have ever attended is that it is almost guaranteed that the song “O Holy Night” will be sung.

There is just something about this song that sends a chill down my spine. I get this huge adrenaline rush as the song begins slowly;

 “O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear saviors birth.”

Even as the song begins I find myself lost in the lyrics. Then the song builds in intensity as it moves along until it hits the crescendo verse still remembering that special night;

“O night divine,” the verse repeats softly and slowly, “O night divine.” 

What I love about this song is that it implores us to remember that night, and not only to acknowledge it but to remember it as something really unique in the history of the world: a savior was born for man to come back into relationship with God.

I have been thinking a lot recently about why that song is so impactful for me, and I think it is because the song takes me to a place in my mind that I do not go to enough…my imagination.


I am so evidence and fact based in my approach to leadership development (and life) that I often miss that creative, imaginative side of who I am.

So, why am I writing this to you as practitioners and gurus in the field of organizational leadership?

Because I don’t want you to miss this very important aspect in leadership that just does not get enough press these days…wisdom in leadership. 

We put so much focus on effective leadership I often wonder if we are missing the boat in doing so. I would argue that perhaps we need to be less concerned with how effective our leaders are and put more emphasis on how wise they are!

So, how do we evaluate wisdom in ourselves as leaders and in those we lead? Here are five things you can use from the wisdom leadership literature as a checklist:

  1.  Wise leaders use careful observations and reason to reach better decisions.

  2. Wise leaders take into account not only rational and factual evidence, but also non-rational aspects such as emotional intelligence, foresight, and imagination. 

  3. Wise leaders value humane and virtuous outcome. 

  4. Wise leaders make decisions that are practical and oriented towards everyday life.

  5. Wise leaders understand the aesthetic dimensions of their work, are articulate when communicating, and believe in contributing to the good life of all.

Perhaps the most notable in this list is number two, so don’t miss it -- wise leaders take into account both the rational and the imagination.

My hope for you this Christmas season is that you will be awestruck not only by the evidence that you can see, but also that you are amazed this season by your own imagination. And, in doing so, that you would find yourself growing in wisdom as a leader.

Take in every moment this holiday season and let your heart be filled with gratitude and wonder.

Be blessed.