In her analysis of “bad leadership”, Barbara Kellerman (3) distinguishes between incompetent and unethical leadership.
But it still early days in the research enterprise, and relatively little is known about the impact of wisdom on leadership effectiveness and organisational success. The “Seven Pillars” of wisdom is our attempt to outline a model that incorporates the spectrum of reflective, cognitive and emotional elements that integrate “mind and character” in the development of wisdom. At one level this framework is a blueprint to inform the criteria applied in talent and succession management reviews and appointments decision-making to establish a more discerning evaluation of current and emerging leadership. At another level this framework can be utilised to create practical tools to support leadership assessment and development (e.g. If we are constrained by our past, caught up in the pressures of the present, or uncertain about our future, it is difficult to see how we can exercise wise leadership.
These stances, towards the past, present and future suggest different leadership outlooks, either operating with maturity and wisdom, or with immaturity and distorted priorities.
Of course organisations need to revitalise and renew themselves, but the connected leader is sceptical of “quick rich schemes” and management fads and fashions.
For some leaders the past was a much happier and enjoyable experience than the challenges they face in the present and the future.
Arguably the story of the falling out of Steve Jobs and John Sculley at Apple was the clash between a leader who looked forward with plans for innovative product development and an executive, who looked back to a career where marketing was the key to business success. Later, with Apple’s share price in sharp decline and posting losses, Sculley was then dismissed.
This leadership outlook of In Flow with the Present is about maturity towards the present to see current challenges as objectively as possible.
With a business background in operating motels, Bernie Ebbers’ initial purchase of an obscure telephone carrier and subsequent “17 year acquisition binge” turned WorldCom into the world’s biggest telecoms company, at least for a short time. Dan Quayle, in a famous Quaylism, said “the future will be better tomorrow” to much laughter. The future is an intimidating and scary place for this leader.  Tomorrow is a place with unknown and uncertain challenges, with the threat of current, emerging and unknown competitors, changing customer expectations, and the arrival of new technology. When “fear is in the driving seat” of the leadership team, the organisational dynamics shift to trigger the process of decline. Gerald Levin oversaw the integration of an old time media content company and an exciting internet  firm. During Terry Leahy’s 14 year tenure at Tesco, profits, dividends and earnings per share doubled, delivering a compound annual growth rate of 10%.
Tesco’s business heritage lay in a “pile them high, sell them cheap” philosophy, an approach which Leahy’s predecessor Ian McLauren had repositioned and evolved into a winning strategy that was making serious inroads into the market share of the competition. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Nine tenths of wisdom consists in being wise in time.” Wise leadership is alert to the productive use of time. Andrew Munro (MA, C Psychol) is a Director of AM Azure Consulting, a consultancy specialising in the design of on line applications for talent management, career development and succession. Some questions emerged, for example to learn more about what happens if these interconnected pillars of wisdom get into tensions with each other. Yes, Yellow does resonate with Beige, and it is an "I" system to some degree, but the characteristics change significantly between first and second tier. As for Teal being Turquoise, I expect that there is a degree of aspiration in some people towards a holistic perspective and of course it is on the horizon, but some caution is needed. My limited understanding of SD und RO leads me to the idea, there there might be a fairly widespread confusion of states. Yellow is the second tier beige, and in beige it is about survival, and there isn't really any organisation.
Found this through a friend and client at Zappos and very energized to read how you weave together (or reveal the earlier connections between) all these elements. A particular pleasure to see and feel the voices of George Por and John Watters in here - good friends and colleagues. Strategic planning isA the leadership driven discipline that articulates an organizationa€™s direction, aligns its resources by devising goals, and equips teams for the execution of objectives that will further the organizationa€™sA  mission and the achievement of its vision. The first step in developing an effective strategic plan is to download your free Dimensional Strategy Overview. The third step is to continue reading and understand the leadership resources that are at your fingertips. Dimensional StrategyA wasA born out of extensive experience in strategic planning across numerous industries, and a frustration with many strategic planning approaches that present themselves as a a€?formulaa€? for success.A  Strategic planning is a challenging undertaking no matter the size of your organization. Following a period of business folly and fiasco, there is a growing realisation that classic competency frameworks fail to integrate fully the cognitive, affective and motivational dynamics of sustainable leadership. Intriguingly the research enterprise, beginning in the 1980s, wasn’t triggered by any leadership thinker or practitioner, but by gerontologists looking at the aging process, and their interest in what was positive about aging.
Within this framework wisdom is not a unitary construct but emerges from the interaction of seven components, with all seven factors required for the full and consistent application of wisdom. An aggressive push to move jobs overseas with extensive lay-offs was never going to be popular with the workforce. The connected leader is attuned to the business fundamentals that don’t change that much, and how to build on these to bridge the past and future. For the resentful leader the past has become a jailor that keeps them in a prison, constraining their flexibility to think and act strategically. Sculley, the former Pepsi executive and mastermind of the brilliant Pepsi challenge, was hired to apply his marketing expertise to the Personal Computer market.  During Sculley’s tenure at Apple, Jobs was dismissed. On his return to Apple, Jobs “called in the engineers and placed before them a table of the products which had been in development under the old regime.
Whilst the rest of the world was moving towards PCs, unsurprisingly IBM struggled (posting a loss of $8 billion in 1992), and Akers had to stand down.

This cool-headed appraisal is to accept business life “as is” not how it should be: a replay of past strategy from previous success, or a fantasy about what might be possible in the best of all business worlds. This is the leader who is burdened by the information overload of confusing and complex information and is struggling to juggle the demands of competing stake-holder expectations. For businesses that have sunk into complacent lethargy, this leadership stance can inject much needed energy to catalyse an action orientation. Without an overarching purpose that coordinates a coherent set of priorities, effort is dissipated in unproductive activity and unprofitable endeavours.
This isn’t the dismissal of the past or the neglect of present priorities; it is the recognition of changing times that demand a shift in thinking to respond to new challenges.
The far sighted leader sets out a plan for a better tomorrow that establishes credibility and respect, not ridicule. At best this leader displays the kind of caution that is sensitive to risk and avoids the grandiose “bet your company” schemes that might jeopardise the organisation’s future. What else but fear could explain the bankruptcy of an organisation like Polaroid, for example? Maybe this leader has done the Tony Robbins fire-walk, because they look to “awaken the giant within” to dream big dreams and think big thoughts.
In this fantasy world, the tough reality of financial well-being, competitor threat or customer experience – is blocked.
Leahy respected Tesco’s history but he wasn’t in awe of it, a trap into which one of his competitors, Marks & Spencer, almost vanished. Richard Trowbridge’s summary of the literature is a superb overview of a range of frameworks and definitions. Author of “Practical Succession Management” and “Now It’s About Time” he is a regular speaker and contributor to professional debate.
And I would love to hear how do you sees the role of Sri Aurobino in early nation building og India? I look forward to sharing my voice and perspectives as I transform my personal leadership skills. It helps to classify different training cultures and understand directions for further development.
Same is my perception with yellow - we must not forget that yellow is in reaction to green - the level that took the 'we' too far. A Because of this we believe that a system that is clear enough to be effective while open enough to be adapted is critical to meeting the challenges that all organizations face. Abandoned some time ago as a quaint but non-scientific construct, wisdom is now regaining recognition as a key component of leadership. More often, however, bad leadership is foolish leadership, a leadership outlook and operating set of priorities without the essential element of wisdom.
More recently the positive psychology movement (5) has raised awareness of the dynamics and outcomes of wisdom as a key domain of “strength”. Specific strengths in any one area do not compensate for a shortcoming within another pillar.
Here it should be noted that wisdom is not always the most valued or popular organisational attribute.
We are currently piloting two formats, a self report measure and a 360 feedback application (7), and initial findings are encouraging with, for example, correlates between individual perceptions and line management, peer and team member assessments of capability in managing cultural diversity, a challenge that requires in no small measure, practical wisdom (8). In the present, we can operate in the current flow optimising our enjoyment of the present; or under siege and avoiding pressing realities, or simply living for the moment.
And masterminding the merger with Compaq was always going to meet opposition from the families of the founders who sat on the Board. Neither is it a pattern that is battle fatigued and scarred by past failures and now cynical about what is possible. The resentful leader can: sulk about perceived wrongs and injustice (think former Prime Minister Ted Heath) or persevere with the sunk costs of a failing decision, determined to prove that they were right. In his early years he sold off “sacred industries” ignoring the critics who claimed he was trampling on GE tradition. As one analyst commented: Sculley didn’t get the reality that “in the world of technology, innovation trumps all other cards”. His successor, Louis Gerstner, initially resorted to the classic tactics of sell assets and cut costs, a programme for survival. The key driver of this strategic shift: “listening to and acting on the recommendations of IBM’s 200 top customers”.
This is the opposite of the “ostrich leader” who, reluctant to address pressing problems, denies the reality of the current challenge, or hopes that something will magically turn up to make things better.
I feel very good about how we’re positioned strategically”, presumably he hadn’t reviewed the market data to see the emerging threat of K-Mart and Wal-Mart. This is the merry-go-round of reorganisation and restructuring that is typically the beginning of the trajectory of decline. Rather than grapple with the complexity of the issues, the under siege leader tries to side-step them by focusing on that one aspect of the business they know well and understand (e.g. This is leadership which generates “six impossible things before breakfast” in breakneck speed to move the business forward. The far sighted leader has the courage and confidence to balance two key dynamics of organisational life – fear (we might fail) and fantasy (things can only get better) – to formulate an inspirational message of future aims with the credibility of a plan to move from today’s realities.
With a proud record in innovation, by the 1970s Polaroid held a monopoly in the instant photography market. The fantasist can often be the charismatic leader with an electrifying vision of the future and a strategy of radical rethink to prepare for a very different tomorrow. For the fantasist leader, the strategic future is a canvas on to which they paint their personal motives (typically, a variation of greed, ego and status).

Leahy kept asking the question: “what do you think Tesco stands for and what do you wish it stood for?” This is leadership that understands how to build on the past to maintain momentum for growth. Its premise was very simple; how we think about time, our past, present and future, says much about us an individuals and our leadership outlook and priorities. And I welcome it as it reinforces what I have "suspected" or perhaps intuited - but somehow sensed simply - must be the case.
Teal organisations utilize a mystic quality (organisations as manifestations of an independent higher consciousness) that comes from 2nd tier purple. And, as you allude, what a shame that SD has missed such an opportunity to become more mainstream through being overly self protective.
This article summarises the “seven pillars” of wisdom (2) and explores one pillar; “time perspective” to provide fresh insights to highlight different manifestations of foolish and wise leadership. Although we can draw on constructs that appear on the surface scientific, like cognitive complexity, emotional intelligence or learning agility, we propose that we access an established tradition and utilise the concept of wisdom for a better understanding of the dynamics of leadership that underpin long-term success and help explain the reasons for derailment and failure. It is wisdom that asks awkward questions, expresses doubt and misgivings, looks long-term rather than applies short-term expediency, ignores the trivia, and doesn’t waste energy on self serving, back covering exercises. Are we preparing to build a better future; or fearful of what lies ahead, or fantasising about unlikely possibilities? A connected leader would have been able to understand the fundamental dynamic of trust within the HP Way, and found ways to engage and revitalise that trust. It is the leadership mindset that recognises the importance of continuity from the past to the present and future.
Now it seems difficult to work out what the problems are, never mind what the solutions might be for today and tomorrow.
Astutely observing that “the last thing IBM needs right now is a vision”, Gerstner focused initially on execution, decisiveness and speed to break the grid lock of the IBM bureaucracy.
Gerstner’s great success was to accept IBM’s current predicament whilst establishing a sequence of measures that would shift its business model for a new future. The in flow leader is alert to the issues as they are, sensitive to the organisational mood, and shrewd in timing the strategic agenda to face and engage with today’s realities. When his plan to acquire Sprint Communications for $115 billion was abandoned as the telecoms sector nosedived, WorldCom’s massive debt was exposed along with a series of fraudulent accounting systems. Caught up in another interesting idea, executives have no time to stop, think and reflect on what is and isn’t working.
And it wasn’t that it didn’t recognise the impact of digital technology; as far back as the early 80s Polaroid were filing patents.
At best the fantasist leader engages with the “hearts and minds” of a demoralised work force to communicate a bright strategic horizon based on a compelling business logic. They tapped into what the people in Tesco wanted to achieve.” And Leahy knows the importance of building leadership bench strength for the future. It's time surely for collaboration through and beyond the inevitability of difference and conflict.
Wisdom then may not necessarily be the smartest career tactic within some organisations, and wisdom may be a neglected priority for executive development. This is a leader with judgement who understands the enduring principles of success and failure and is grounded in the realities of business competition, and the dynamics of organisational culture, social interaction and human nature. Looking to GE for a cash injection of $100 million to reverse its fortunes, Montgomery Ward came back, and back again, for more funding.
It’s comforting for them, at least in the short-run, to revisit a strategy that once worked and delivered success. In 2005, Ebbers was convicted of fraud and conspiracy as a result of WorldCom’s false financial reporting.
Part of the reason for Polaroid’s decline was its assumption that customers would always want a hard copy print. For Leahy there are no short fixes; it takes many years to build a culture of sustainable success. It’s significant that Leahy is only the fifth individual to run Tesco since its founding in the 1920s. It is the yellow individual growing beyond it's singularity joining hands to serve a higher evolutionary purpose. Levin now is a director at Moonview Sanctuary, a secluded California facility with “neuro-scientific technology” and “ancient wisdom,” for prices starting at a mere $175,000 a year.
In standing down for insider Philip Clarke in a well orchestrated succession plan, Leahy passed on the baton for another chapter in the Tesco book. So typical yellow organisations out there are awaaz and anonymous - not much of an organisation at all.
They had a considerable amount of fear from the chemical and film people about what their job would be if we got into electronics.” Polaroid’s manoeuvres in the months before its bankruptcy indicate a leadership team without confidence in the business, more concerned to protect its own personal financial position than secure the future for the firms’ investors and workforce.
And on a daily breadwinning level the are freelancers, entering short term contracts at the max, or clustering in loose groups of all self employed professionals, often not even developing a common brand, avoiding to even hire a secretary. They are maxed out with taking responsibility for one's own survival, and strongly dislike the idea of 'being responsible for someone'.
On a peer level this still allows for free cooperation networks, but in lack of alternative models of sharing work of quite different levels of skills they outsource rather than hire.

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