KATHMANDU: We regard knowledge as the optimum tool for a leader to become successful. But does knowledge alone make such a huge difference in leadership? Actually knowledge is one of the many contributing factors for good leadership.
Historically, knowledge is given much significance and education is one of the means by which it is acquired. Thus, schools are a source of know-ledge and the education system reiterates in knowledge transformation. Another vital aspect that the ‘knowledge seeking mentality’ invites is the wider acknowledgement of a person’s ‘knowledge acquiring ability’. Education based knowledge thus stratifies individuals into ‘able’ or ‘unable’. Much weight is placed upon those who are in the higher strata.
So what is the difference between knowledge and inform-ation? Knowledge is how you process the information that you have. A leadership trainee believed that knowledge is the optimum factor that a leader has to have. However, I argued that if knowledge is so important, then Google is the ultimate leader. It is the greatest information pool ever created in human history. Moreover, information is everywhere nowadays — from a handheld device to television, where any curious person can be as knowledgeable as the next.
So, does knowledge alone help foster a leader? It is just a tip of what a leader is required to have. More importantly, it is wisdom which makes a general leader into a great one. Wisdom gives individuals the capacity to value one’s and others’ life. Knowledge is just one of the many contributing aspects of wisdom. Wisdom, in general sense, is also associated with deep understanding and real-isation. The understanding might be of people, things, events or situations. They collectively result in application of perceptions, judgment and
actions. Hence, wisdom helps a leader to better apply inform-ation and knowledge whenever and wherever necessary.
In order to give rise to great leaders, first and foremost, the educational system should change its belief from ‘know-ledge is power’ to ‘wisdom is power’. Wisdom, not knowledge, should define a leader. Sandra Carey, an American legislature and political expert, says,
“Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps make a living while the other helps you make a life.”
(The author is the MD, trainer and consultant of Aadhar Development Pvt Ltd. Also the founding member and consultant of Catalyst for Transformation Pvt Ltd, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)