Wise Guys

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Growing up in northern New Jersey, I was all to familiar with the term, “wise guys”. These wise guys had last names that sounded more like Italian sports cars or exotic pasta dishes than actual names. In addition, since this post is about seeking wisdom, suffice it to say that these were not the guys you’d want to seek out for your wise council.

No the wisdom we want to seek out is that of wise men (and women) not wise guys. So who are these people? These are people that have been there. People that have walked the roads you’re about to walk and have the battle scars to prove it. They’re people that have been on the mountaintop but not without the valley experience.

There’s no question that on many fronts, you’ll need to have been around the block a few times, to really possess some wisdom on a given topic & perhaps have a little gray around the temples. We have to remember however that on some topics, having been around a while can be a disadvantage. There may be times that you’ll need to seek council from a bright and intuitive young 20 something. This is why you want 2 or 3 “wise guys” or gals as go to’s when your facing a challenge.

Certainly it’s true that regardless of age, these may be people that have achieved significant position in life. Some of our greatest leaders have acquired great wisdom along the way…But one thing I want to caution you on when seeking out wisdom; don’t let position or lack of it, exclusively dictate from whom you seek wise council. Some of the wisest people I’ve known didn’t have CEO, or president or senior operations director of the known world, next to their name. Often they’re humble men and women who’ve chosen to lead quietly, putting others first and taking on the role of a true servant leader.

The apostle Paul hits all of this directly at the outset of chapter 5 in 1st Timothy. He says: “Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters”. You see respect should be given to all, and wisdom can be obtained form the young and the old. That in itself is a great piece of wisdom.

Lastly, be sure not to create your “wisdom team” with people that think and act just like you. That might be comfortable but you’ll limit insight and creativity. You want people you can go to that have different experiences and can see things from a different vantage point than you can.

So ask good questions of wise people…and surround yourself with people who also ask good questions. Often times, their questions may increase your wisdom as much as their answers do.

For more on seeking wise council, watch my short video: Wise Guys

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Relational Leadership

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If you’re going to be an exceptional leader, you have to care about and for people; period! You have to know them…What’s important to them…What makes them tick. You have to care about their hopes and dreams as much as you care about your own; perhaps more…And this has to be genuine.

What are the things you should want most from those you lead? Tasks to be completed? Hard work? Goals to be reached? No…Those are good outcomes but those aren’t what you strive to cultivate. No, what you want most is trust, loyalty and for your team to truly care about what you care about…And that only comes by caring for them first, by investing in their lives first…By serving them first. Now, if you were thinking that the people you lead are there to serve you, it’s time for a total re-rack of your thinking. Servant leadership is where it’s at!

Now, there will always be people we’re going to gel with better than others…people who will be easy to serve as we lead. But, there’ll also be people that get on our nerves, that annoy us; but remember, everyone has a story and that story is often a significant part of why they are who they are. We need to do our best to know and understand that story.

In John Maxwell’s 5 Levels of Leadership, he encourages us to find something likable about every person we meet. He reminds us that when we lead someone, we get the whole person.

Now there’ll be plenty of times, we wished we’d only gotten the parts we liked, or the parts we need to accomplish our goals; but that can’t be our reality if we’re going to lead. Like it or not, we get the whole person. So the sooner we begin to know and understand that whole person, and recognize that they’re not simply a means to our end, the sooner we’ll begin to gain what’s really important…Their trust, loyalty and commitment.

Andy Stanley said: When people are convinced you want something FOR them rather than something FROM them, they are less likely to be offended when you challenge them.” Let’s be sure our teams know that we are for them…Not just for their success as our team member, but for them; the whole person.

For more on relational leadership, watch my video teaching here:  Relational Leadership