Cultivation and development of wisdom contributing to wise organizations and wise leaders
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This research addresses the notion of developing and fostering wisdom at an executive level within a business context - ultimately illuminating foundational business requirements supporting wisdom development practices and behaviours amongst business leaders. The research contributes to a wisdom development action framework designed to increase and support wisdom at the organizational and leader level as well as highlighting the complexity of researching the concept of wisdom within a business context. The literature supports the need for wisdom development within a business context. Designed as Abductive Phenomenological Comparative Case Study research, semi-structured interviews were conducted with senior leaders currently working within, or recently retired from, Canadian organizations. Those interviewed have been identified as “wise leaders” by those who have witnessed and experienced their leadership in action. The study purpose was to explore and learn how these leaders saw their own wise leadership demonstrated, and to determine what could have contributed to their wisdom development. The study also considered other observations these wise leaders have about the development and fostering of wisdom based on their work with others. Selected from an extensive review of the literature on wisdom, the study was framed by wisdom definitions from Hays (2007, 2017) and Kolodinsky & Bierly (2013). A second source of data was the semi-structured interviews conducted with the referral sources of these ‘wise’ leaders. Behaviours, traits, and/or actions observed, and seen as adding to these leaders being referred to as wise were captured, such that nominees were confirmed to be wise relative to each other and as identified by the literature. This research supports intentional wisdom development, irrespective of the age or experience of the leader or potential leader. Keywords: wisdom, executive leadership, wise leaders, wisdom development, organizational wisdom, wisdom characteristics.