Becoming a W.I.S.E Leader: Four Things You Need To Know

Learning from Kilani, his daughter, Marcel creates an invaluable tool in his executive coaching work today. His four-step W.I.S.E. helps managers flex their wisdom muscles by cultivating self-awareness, curiosity, and exploring possibilities or even changing when needed.

Marcel Daane, Life and Career Strategist and author of Five Energies of Five Bosses…and How Not to Become One believes that his daughter Kilani is wiser than many people he knows. When you hear her speak, it is hard to believe that at just 21-years of age she has such an amazing ability for listening and reflecting in a way that shows a deep understanding. Even as an infant, Kilani’s wisdom shines through in everything that comes with being so smart. Through time, Marcel knows that when his daughter reflects on something, he benefits most by dropping everything and listening to what she has to say. The best advice comes from listening with an open heart and receiving without judgment or interruption–this has been true for both of them over time as they’ve grown into successful adults who now understand one another better than anyone else does.

Kilani and Marcel were having an insightful conversation about wisdom one day. The answer Kilani gave his father was so spot on and has been an invaluable tool in Marcel’s executive coaching work today. He was blown away by her answer that Marcel dedicated a large portion of his book, Five Energies of Five Bosses, on the subject.

What kind of deep insight comes from a child?

When asked how she wished to define wisdom, Kilani refers to it as “Living our Experiences.” For some, life is nothing but a routine. They wake up in the morning and go about their day as if it were any other; however, others like to think of themselves as frontier types – always ready for a challenge. These folks are in touch with their outer spirit and use every single day as an opportunity to grow, learn more about themselves or make some important contribution on the world stage.

And because of that, they feel more alive than ever.

Kilani always had a passion for getting the most out of each day, and it came naturally to her as she grew up. Her interest in reading books from an early age led Kilani down the path where not only did she learn new skills but also habits that helped shape who she is today: intelligent yet practical with senses tuned into what’s important. What Marcel realized at that galvanizing moment was wisdom is a skill to be learned and developed, just like knowledge and learning, not something a person is born with or has by the time of his/her adulthood. Wisdom is like a muscle that needs to be flexed every day not only to be maintained but to grow stronger.

Marcel’s moment with his daughter made him think about the various organizational cultures and how they impact employees. Many of his coaching clients operate in an organizational culture that’s not very healthy because it lacks the opportunity for employees to practice wisdom.

In the world of business, there are many different ways to measure and incentivize performance. One way that companies have started is by creating metrics around “Return on Engagement” or ROE- which means they want employees who can bring in more money with less attention than necessary for their work product. This idea has been gaining traction recently as organizations look for new measurement tools beyond just productivity measurements or revenue growth rates. These important metrics have their place but don’t always tell you everything about what makes an employee successful within any workplace environment over time. It’s not easy to balance one’s own Employee Value Metrics while helping those around them maintain theirs as well, and managers have the thankless job of juggling this balancing act.

With the constant shift in priorities, many managers find themselves with less time for strategic thinking. They are often forced to just “exist” every day, and this can be a struggle for them. As such many managers rely on doing what they know will produce value to keep up with the demands of management- especially as those roles become increasingly complicated over time. Employees, on the other hand, are so busy following the example set by those before them that they forget how to be creative, innovative, and forward-thinking. This work environment creates an atmosphere that doesn’t encourage wisdom production. Marcel points out that organizations are at risk for being less agile and progressive with their evolution because no one can pass on the lessons learned from experience practically within these groups anymore.

How then can working people achieve “Living [their] Experiences”?

Achieving a fulfilling and happy life can happen anywhere. It’s not just about adventures while traveling or going on vacation. It can also happen on the factory floor, in the warehouse, or in the office. The difference is that experiencing life at its fullest in the workplace requires dedicated attention, care, and the right mindset. Managers flexing their wisdom muscles is important since it will allow them to demonstrate the skills of a leader. It allows them four things they might not normally get around doing at work. Those four things that you need to do conveniently spell the word W.I.S.E, which stands for: Where Am I Right Now, Invite Curiosity, Surrender to my most unlikely teachers, and Embrace uncertainty with enthusiasm.

W.I.S.E is the four steps to cultivating more wisdom in yourself. Be aware that you always have blind spots. Give yourself permission to be curious and let go of what you think is true for your life to explore new possibilities, or even change them completely. To expand your people and yourself, you must seek out the input of people who normally would not be approached for advice. Lastly, do your best to have fun with work so that you can stay enthusiastic about expanding yourself and others. As Marcel once said, “a WISE Organization that leverages on its diversity and wisdom is an organization that will continue to grow and adapt for decades to come.”

For more on Marcel and his W.I.S.E steps visit

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