Are you a clever or a wise leader?

Since the dawn of time, clever people have used their intelligence to introduce many innovations that have improved the world for all of us.

But, while cleverness has been what’s got us to here, it’s not enough to take us to a better reality in the next five years.

The word “clever” is thought to come from a Scandinavian word meaning “skilful”. While we certainly need skilful leaders in government and business, clever people do not necessarily make the best leaders.

Over the past two decades, we’ve seen what clever leaders in politics and business have done – manipulated things for their own advantage with no concern for the good and welfare of others.

Clever leaders are skilful, articulate and influential, but they are not necessarily ethical, compassionate or selfless. Cleverness is amoral – it takes on the morality of the person in whose hands it finds itself. So, if a clever person is unethical, they will use their cleverness for unethical purposes.

Right now, there are many people in government and business who are very clever. They are however using their cleverness to make huge amounts of money for themselves, and they are driving in luxury cars, living in luxurious mansions, eating fabulous food and feeling very proud of themselves.

Wise people, on the other hand, are also intelligent. They may not have the same type of intelligence that clever people have, but they apply that intelligence only in ways that are ethical, compassionate and selfless.

The difference between clever people and wise people is that wise people consider what they can do to help others while clever people think more in terms of their own interests.

That’s why we admire and respect wise people. We know that they have the interests of others, and not themselves, at heart.

For too long we have been satisfied to allow clever people to lead us, whether in the political or business world. Look where that has got us …   

It’s now time for us to look for wise leaders who want for others what they want for themselves, who want for other children what they want for their own children.

Are you a clever or wise leader? Do you make decisions based on what you think is in the best interests of all or what you think is in your own particular interests only.

Clever people have an ability to acquire, process and apply information to achieve something. Sometimes they use those skills not only for the good of others but to their own advantage. Wise people also acquire, process and apply information, but only for the benefit of others.   

You need to decide if you want to be clever or wise. You can be clever without being wise, but you can’t be wise without being clever. If you desire to be a great leader, you have to develop and demonstrate wisdom in all you do. There can be no greatness without wisdom.

Clever leaders tend to focus on their own interests. They are slaves to their greed and egos. This causes them to lead only for personal gain. Wise leaders, however, focus only on the interests of others. They are no longer slaves to their personal interests. They have risen above such things.

Cleverness is a short term goal while wisdom is a long term one. No-one becomes wise overnight. It takes years of personal growth to conquer all your personal appetites and desires so you are no longer held ransom by your personal interests.

Once you achieve this status, however, you will be a leader of great value to your company, and country.  

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine,, @HRFuturemag, and a professional speaker. He assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery so that they can live and lead with greatness.

6 key points to ensure your tech solution is able to offer results

Business Management Solutions are designed to ease the administrative burden of running a business, which is important at a time when all businesses are being squeezed to deliver more. To get the most out of your solution, it needs to be a single solution that facilitates growth, accelerates core functions, is device agnostic and has the ability to provide instant data and analytics.

I’ve seen many instances where the impact on cost reduction and revenue generation is not maximized. For a business to truly reap the benefits that a Business Management Solution has to offer, it needs to review its internal processes.

Here are six key points you should consider to ensure that your solution is able to offer the results for which it was designed:

1. Discourage the use of old software

For a solution to be successful, it needs to become the de facto solution within a business. Legacy reporting software that was used prior to the implementation of the solution needs to be abolished.

2. Be vigilant with data integrity

The data from which the business intelligence is being sourced needs to be as accurate as possible. While automation assists with this, there needs to be a concerted effort within the business that every data entry is correct to ensure that the information reported provides an opportunity for informed decisions to be made.

3. Use all the functions that the solution offers

Many Business Management Solutions include functionalities that are often not used. As an example, data is captured and then exported to the legacy solution, such as an Excel spreadsheet, which defeats the objective of the new solution. Well-orchestrated solutions also offer add on modules to provide more functionality for a business as and when it requires.

4. Encourage employee engagement with the solution

The introduction of a new solution often comes with a standard training programme – it may be of value to offer training workshops after employees have become more accustomed to the system.

5. Trust the value the solution is able to deliver

Many Cloud based automated Business Management Solutions require business owners to relinquish control of the system to allow it to do what is was designed to do. This means that the decision maker needs to trust that the data being provided is accurate.

6. Managing the Change with all stakeholders

The success of any Business Management Solution relies on stakeholder engagement. It is vital that all stakeholders are informed about solutions throughout and that any expectations regarding the solutions are managed.

Keith Fenner is the Vice President at Sage X3 International.

Coaching for change

This short paper highlights some obstacles encountered in dealing with ‘change’ whether personal or organisational, and identifies some useful, and perhaps unusual, techniques to employ in overcoming these obstacles.
Individual obstacles to change.

Can leaders change? Yes, but only if they want to.

Obstacles to change/leadership coaching – motivation, people are too defensive, complex psychological problems.

Relationship with the coach – trust and respect. The interpersonal connection is too opinionated.

Listening and careful observation required. Seeing only what they want to see. Poor reality-testing. Old Sioux Indian saying, “When you discover that you’re riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.”

The leader/client misunderstands change or doesn’t have the skill to change. Keynes said, ”The greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas but to make them forget their old ideas.’

Stuckness – an inability to move on, to make progress. An issue becomes a cul-de-sac.


Hidden ‘competing commitments’ technique is extremely effective in recognising the tension between what the client would like to do and what commitments are blocking him/her from doing so. It helps in a stuck situation.

Focus on arguably the most important elements of leadership – self- awareness, communications and collaboration:

The coach must listen with the third ear. “If somebody tells you you have ears like a donkey, pay no attention. But if two people tell you so, buy yourself a saddle.”

Appreciation by the coach for and understanding of the client’s so-called “inner-theatre”, the highly complex interplay of themes between nature and nurture which determines his/her personality.

Needless to say poor ‘chemistry’ and/or unsatisfactory progress in reaching agreed upon objectives is cause for terminating the coach/client relationship. The sooner the better!

Group/organisational obstacles to change  

Can groups and organisations change? Yes, providing they can overcome uncertainty, concern over personal loss and belief that the change is not in the organisation’s best interests

Many change initiatives fail by not adequately appreciating or understanding the role of human behaviour in organisational performance and change.


The coach and client need to delve into the heart of the basic drivers of human behaviour and identify and manage the hidden dynamics of teams and organisations.

Make use of the clinical approach whereby Insights are drawn from a broad range of disciplines ranging from psychoanalytic psychology to cognitive theory.

The coach transforms himself into a reflective and powerful agent of change. Reflective space is created in the groups and the organisation. Promote a safe environment, an opportunity for the client to see self and others more clearly.

Conflict is inevitable in change situations. This needs to be managed. Paradoxically in certain circumstances not enough conflict is aroused to get the true picture and genuine feedback. In this case conflict has to be stimulated if voices are to be heard and the elephants in the room are to be exposed.

Encourage the establishment of authentisotic organisations – responsible, effective, value driven, with a strong sense of purpose.

Organise a “Culture Audit” to determine the readiness for the change programme being contemplated. Follow up with a change workshop.

Have the so-called “courageous conversations” to lay open all the gremlins that inhibit change.

Clive Knobbs is an Associate at Change Partners.

Coaching and nurturing disruptors

Labels! – It is a very common habit that most of us demonstrate – the need to use labels to describe others’ behaviour. Maybe it goes back to our primeval instincts which prompt the question; “who is lunch, me or them?”
Whatever the cause, we are generally happier if we can put others in some kind of a category.

The danger of doing so when working with, in this instance, ‘a disruptor’ is that this will negatively influence our approach – we will begin by labelling the person, not addressing the behaviour. So maybe this article should rather be about coaching those who exhibit disruptive behaviours.

So what are some examples of typical disruptive behaviours found in the workplace? Here are a few:

•    Arriving late for meetings, making big commotion and giving “reasons” for lateness.
•    Being aggressively negative to other’s ideas with phrases like “It will never work.”
•    Whispering constantly to neighbour in a meeting, breaking the concentration of others.
•    Dominating a conversation by talking too much.
•    Interrupting others before they have finished speaking.
•    Volunteering for tasks, and then failing to deliver on time.
•    Losing one’s temper frequently; exhibiting severe mood swings.

In many of these examples, it is quite likely that if tackled, the person who used this behaviour will have a very rational explanation for why they felt that they were acting appropriately in the circumstances. So, a starting point to helping them use a different approach is not to tackle their rationalisation, but rather re-visit the situation, and look at different options.  

It is important to begin from the standpoint that the individual concerned was well-intentioned. So what were their intentions? Once these have been clarified, can they be re-defined as a desired outcome? The next step can be to develop options (including the behaviour already used) which might be used to achieve the outcome. After that, look at the potential impact each option may have on those who are exposed to it. Finally, considering the consequences (both long and short term) make a determination of the most appropriate behaviour to achieve the outcome with the minimal negative consequences.

You will notice that the approach in the last paragraph does not mention trying to understand why someone chooses to use disruptive behaviour. It is aimed solely on trying to get them to practice ‘mindfulness in the moment’, and to be intentional about how they behave by keeping their desired outcome in focus. In this way, they will be less likely to behave in a disruptive manner.

However, other behaviours – losing one’s temper is a prime example – need a different approach. However, this can still be a coaching approach, rather than a psycho- therapeutic one. If possible, try to identify the triggers which stimulate temper loss, then work on eliminating them. For instance, what often happens is that someone breaks one of ‘our rules’  which we all have, based on our values and life experiences. However, it is not necessarily one of their rules. The more we are able to share our thoughts and aspirations openly with others, the better they will understand us, and the less likely they are to break our rules!

In addition to identifying triggers, it should be possible to have a discussion around the negative effects of disruptive behaviours, and the additional effort required to restore normality afterwards.

The only person we can change is ourselves, but it takes courage sometimes to experiment with our behaviour to learn how we can achieve our goals more effectively.

Andy Johnson is a Partner at Change Partners.

Your Cart