7 Characteristics of a Wise Leader

I write and speak a lot about leadership. I know lots of good leaders. In fact, I work with many good leaders. I hope some would even say I have days where I meet the standard – whatever the standard is.

I also write and speak a good deal about wisdom. And, I think wisdom is critical to the field of good leadership.

A wise leader has developed certain characteristics – wisdom learned from the personal experience of success and failure and from the insight of other leaders – which sets them apart from other leaders. Wise leaders are valuable to any organization. All of us have moments of wisdom – regardless of our age or experience.

But, frankly, I have known few in leadership whom I would consider truly wise leaders. Wise leaders have moved to a new stage in life from mostly learning from others to being looked to as a trusted resource. People seek their input, because they know they are leaders to be trusted. Their experience and who they are as people makes them seen as investors in new generations of leaders.

I am going to list some characteristics I have observed in leaders who have wisdom. Think in your mind people you believe are “wise” leaders.

Here are 7 characteristics of a wise leader:

They have mastered the art of timing

The wise leader knows time is a precious commodity. They use sound judgement in decision-making. They have patience. They know organizations and individuals have seasons. Seasons of plenty and seasons of want. They have learned there is a right time to act and and there are times to wait.

They also careful plan what they say; knowing their words are powerful. You would never catch them “going off” in a meeting – unless they had planned to do so for strategic reasons. They are careful not to make promises they can’t keep. They use their words to bless others.

They have deep, trusted character

The wise leader places a high value on integrity. They know ultimately everything rises and falls on the moral fiber of an individual. They’ve seen people lose everything with one bad decision. They know reputation is hard-earned and should be treated as gold. They aren’t perfect, but they are careful to protect their reputation and who they are in public they are in private.

They lead with a clear vision

The wise leader understands the value of a big picture. They keep an eye on something worth attaining. They continually motivate others by sharing the “Why”. In their personal and professional life they are keenly aware of where they are attempting to go – and where they hope to end someday. They know momentum lost is hard to regain. They continually seek change, which will spur energy around their vision – for the good of all those around them.

They take initiatives; even when hard.

The wise leader is risk-taking and intentionally encourages innovation. They have witnessed a stalled organization. They know the dreadful feeling when there is no forward progress. They have personally experienced the cost of lost opportunity. They want to engage others by keeping things moving, people dreaming and the culture exciting; even when the risks are bigger than others can embrace immediately. They are willing to take the lead.

They continually display diligence

The wise leader continues in spite of adversity. They tenaciously persevere through the hard days. They know reaching a goal is worth the struggles to get there. They’ve been through storms before and have scars to prove you can come through them whole. They are seen as pillars. They display strength under duress. People look to them for stability.

They are strategic=thinkers

The wise leader realizes no dream becomes reality without proper planning. They make sure plans are in place and people know what’s expected of them. They utilize healthy systems and structures. They aren’t burdensome with rules, but they are helpful in thinking through a process to achieve the goals and objectives of the organization. They surround themselves with people who can move things forward and work hard for progress. They know with the right vision, people and plans anything is possible.

They genuinely love people

The wise leader knows people are the key to any organizational or team success and they work to empower others. Others know they are valued and appreciated under their leadership. They are true delegators. They invest in and develop the next generation. They look past the income statement and see the balance sheet — with people being the organization’s greatest asset. And, it’s not phony admiration. Time and experience has allowed them to see without people nothing happens – and nothing of real value is attained. Other people matter.

What am I missing? What would you add to my list?

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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