Psychologist and author Richard R. Kilburg presents questions for improving leadership wisdom that can be reviewed in coaching sessions (Executive Wisdom: Coaching and the Emergence of Virtuous Leaders, APA, 2006).
- Take a moment to relax, then ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the stupidest thing you have ever done as a person or as a professional?
- If you are a leader in an organization, what is the stupidest decision or action you have ever taken?
- What made the decision or action stupid? When and how did you know it was stupid? What criteria did you use to judge its merits?
- Now, ask yourself,
- What is the wisest thing you have ever done as a person or as a professional?
- If you are a leader in an organization, what is the wisest decision or action you have ever taken?
- What made the decision or action wise? When and how did you know it was wise? What criteria did you use to judge its merits?
- Can you develop any internal sense of how you created, accessed, and used a sense of rightness in the situations in which you believe you acted wisely as opposed to stupidly? If so, jot down and reflect on what you think and feel went into the emergence of that sense of rightness.
- Take a few minutes to talk to someone out loud about what you have explored or, if you are reluctant to share it with another person, dictate some notes into a tape recorder and then listen to yourself afterward. The experience of giving voice to inner work can often provide additional insight and learning.
Discussing these issues with your coach will help you develop a powerful link to leading with wisdom. In fact, I suggest that doing these steps on your own won’t be as effective as they could be when you use coaching sessions to explore your thoughts with a trusted advisor.