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Social Perceptiveness in Integrative Leadership: Acknowledging Wisdom from the Past

By Jennifer Houston

Students from the Spring 2010 "Integrative Leadership: From Theory to Practice" course, taught by Professors Jay Kiedrowski and Paul Vaaler, will post their reflections on integrative leadership throughout the course of the semester on the Time to Lead blog.

Mumford (2000) stated that wisdom is an over-arching ingredient to effective leadership skills. One key social skill that appears to underlie leader performance is social perceptiveness. Zaccaro, Gilbert, Thor and Mumfortd (1991) see social perceptiveness as a complex skill involving insight in to the needs, goals, demands, and problems of different organizational constituencies.

This skill of integrative leadership is undervalued in our practical settings. It's rarely discussed in these terms or fully supported. How is such a value of wisdom so underrated and perhaps misunderstood in our American culture?

Wisdom is a deep understanding of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy. Wisdom is the ability to optimally (effectively and efficiently) apply perceptions and knowledge and so produce the desired results. Wisdom is comprehension of what is true or right coupled with optimum judgment as to action.

Across the globe each nation named wisdom a value in understanding who they were and helped them to create their place in this world. Past on from one generation to another as something so sacred and honored. Today, much of our leadership lacks this wisdom of heart, mind and soul to act justly. We undervalue those in our society who bring the greatest wisdom, our elderly, so how do we recapture this skill, how is this past on from one generation to the next so our children can become leaders with not only the new information of today, but steeped in the rich wisdom of the past?

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