Becoming a wise leader is not always a smooth journey—people can easily revert to their familiar smart behaviors. Practical wisdom requires the unlearning of one’s past success formulas. Even today, Bill Gates becomes intense and defensive when addressing Microsoft’s lack of growth in the past decade. And Tim Cook saw a significant decline in Apple’s market valuation when he focused more on tangible products and services than on intangible connections to the marketplace and end-users. Such struggles are to be expected. But wise leaders are resilient, and they learn from failure. They are flexible, enabling them to maintain this crucial balance: The business-smart leader can give voice to aspiration, the functional-smart leader can appreciate limits and execute within them—and the wise leader can do both.
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- Prasad Kaipa is a Silicon Valley–based CEO coach and advisor and a senior fellow of the Indian School of Business’s Centre for Leadership, Innovation, and Change.
- Navi Radjou is a Silicon Valley–based strategy consultant and the coauthor of Jugaad Innovation: Think Frugal, Be Flexible, Generate Breakthrough Growth (Jossey-Bass, 2012).
- This article is adapted from Kaipa and Radjou’s book, From Smart to Wise: Acting and Leading with Wisdom (Jossey-Bass, 2013).