Saturday, April 9, 2011

Servant Leadership Practice--Ask Wise Questions

In classical thought, Socrates was considered one of the wisest men alive. He would never admit it. He was so adept at asking relevant and piercing questions that a teaching method was named after him. As written in Plato's "Socrates' Defense (Apology)", Socrates summarizes the accusations against him: he is "guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things...and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example." He admits to gaining a reputation from a kind of limited, human wisdom. He does not admit to any other divine wisdom, of which he searched his whole life. He recounts a dialogue with a politician, who thought of himself as wise as did many other people. Socrates showed him that he only thought he was wise, but wasn't. Of course, the politician resented it. Walking away, Socrates knew he was wiser than that man only because he knew he didn't have wisdom, while the other thought he did but didn't.

What can we learn from this?

Wisdom is asking the right questions about our values and behavior.
  • If I believe people are my number one asset and the only thing that can't be duplicated by my competitors, how do I maintain their value and improve their effectiveness?
  • If I believe certain aspects of my business are critical, how much of my time is focused on them?
  • If family is important, how do I communicate this with my actions and policies?
  • If I require that I make certain decisions, what is that communicating to the rest of the staff?
Wisdom is knowing what is of major importance in your business and which things are of minor importance. As a leader it's important to 'major on the majors, and minor on the minors".

Today, ask yourself some tough questions. If "this", then I should see "that". Am I seeing "that" or not? If I see something else, does that mean that "this" isn't there?

For C12 and Truth@Work members, Proverbs advises us to seek wisdom. It can help us to discern truth and right actions, such as when to talk, when to be silent, and what words get at the heart of the issue. "The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out." (Prov. 10.9)

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