Importance of Sages   Leave a comment

The Socratic Method

The Socratic Method (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am fortunate to have some sages in my life.  These are individuals that I turn to for their wisdom and insight.  As a leader, I am expected to lead other people.  However, any leader who perceives her or himself as knowing everything that he or she needs to know is a very confused person indeed.  This brings me back to the importance of having sages in my life.

It was shortly after college that I learned one of the most important lessons of my life.  I graduated college with a very respectable GPA and a diploma that conferred upon me a Bachelor of Arts degree.  I was fortunate to have received a job offer two months prior to my graduation so the day after graduation I started my new stage of life in management.  I walked into my new job fairly confident and ready to rock the world of this company with new ideas.  I quickly established my authority with the employees in the area and after completing the required training become “king” of my area.  It was approximately two months later that I received the lesson that was probably more important than anything I had ever learned in college.

An employee that had almost twenty years of experience with my company seemed to keep butting heads with me.  She never seemed to take my direction (okay, orders) well and always thought she had a better way of doing things.  Ensuring my “king of the hill” status, I would quarrel with her on a daily basis.  I was also becoming quite frustrated because my area was having more mistakes and performance levels seemed to be dropping.  I was have little success in turning things around.  Finally one day after another one of our contentious conversations, I asked the employee how she would handle a specific situation (my first moment of brilliance since I began the position).  She proceeded to share her thoughts and this led to a conversation in which she pointed out how my decisions were having a negative impact.  She explained that because of her many years of experience she could be a great asset to me if I would listen to her advice.  From that day forward instead of being adversaries I took her as my partner and turned to her often when I was not sure exactly which direction to go.  I would also check in with her regularly to hear her perceptions and insights on how the department and I was doing.  She became my first sage.

Since that experience, I have sought out sages in my life.  Sometimes I have also had sages enter my life when I was not looking.  No matter what precipitated the arrival of the sage, I always have valued these individuals in my life.  At times I have one sage to which I turn, while at other times I have two or three.  But I cannot recall a time in my life that I have not had at least one and I intend this to be true for the remainder of my life.

As I leader, I know my limitations.  I strive to be self-aware enough to strengths and my challenges.  I strongly believe that a great leader cannot achieve their potential without a sage in  their life.


Posted November 1, 2013 by thoughtfulbeliever in Experiences, Leadership, Life, Organizations

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