Two Wise Leaders

How did you cultivate your wisdom today? One of my long term clients, Mark Finser, as President & CEO, grew the RSF Social Finance assets to over $120M by 2007 with a focus on putting money to work for a sustainable future. Each decision, whether it was operational or programmatic, staff or board related, was informed by his daily meditation practice and the wise counsel of mentors. Mark cultivates a rare ability to look at things from several different points of view to inform his decisions. The results of his approach show in the depth of his relationships and the scope of his results.

Mark is a wise leader. Wisdom is a multi-faceted knowledge, blending life and work experience with mental clarity, emotional sensing, and intuitive insight. The leaders I’ve been privileged to work with, those who make the biggest difference in their industry or cause, access this blend of knowledge to make smart, sensible, and astute small and large decisions that benefit the immediate and larger world.

Bob, Chief Legal Counsel for a large Federal agency woke at 4am to meditate every day. I first heard his story on a break during a Senior Management Retreat I was running in 1989 and it’s stuck with me.

You knew something was different when you were around Bob. The first time I heard him speak I was standing at the front of the conference room leading the senior management team through their first exercise of their leadership retreat. Each person in the circle introduced themselves. Midway through the circle of introductions, my attention was drawn away by a secretary entering the room with more coffee.

As Bob began to speak, the resonance in his voice pulled my attention back. The calm centered timber in his voice relaxed everyone in the room while simultaneously waking them up. He spoke without nervousness or push, without hesitation or trying. His inner knowing infused his being and radiated into his natural expression of leadership.

The results were obvious. Throughout the retreat Bob added perspective to limited thinking, came up with the suggestions that blended differing priorities and found new avenues through complex thorny issues.

It was a privilege to work with him over several years and help develop strategies for bringing wise leadership to the fore throughout the agency and the law firm he later joined.

Both Mark and Bob engaged in practices to cultivate their wisdom and made it a point to take a big picture perspective before coming to conclusions. In our hyper-focused work with big accountabilities on our desks, it takes something to do this, but the results are obvious.

What do you do to fill out the dimensionality of your knowledge? How do you cultivate your wisdom? What works for you?