8 Pillars of Wisdom

In Stephen S. Hall’s book, Wisdom: from Philosophy to Neuroscience (Vintage 2011), the author breaks the concept of wisdom into its most salient cognitive and emotional components which he calls the “neural pillars of wisdom,” in order to understand the science behind each. The book is recommended for better understanding the “science of wisdom” and its philosophical and psychological roots.

  1. Emotional regulation
  2. Knowing what’s important: values and judgment
  3. Moral reasoning
  4. Compassion
  5. Humility
  6. Patience
  7. Altruism
  8. Dealing with uncertainty and complexity

Business Intelligence

According to Tom Davenport, professor of information technology at Babson College in Massachusetts, “Business intelligence is the systematic use of information about your business to understand, report on and predict different aspects of performance.”

Davenport argues that sage leadership is the most important factor in cultivating this organizational thought process, citing as examples Jeff Bezos of Amazon.com, Inc., Gary Loveman of Harrah’s Entertainments, Inc., and Reed Hastings of Netflix, Inc.

Warren Buffet, the investor, is known for his financial wisdom built upon a foundation of expert accounting knowledge. However, his true brilliance stems from a deep understanding of people and human nature.

What about Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, would you consider him to be a wise business leader? Think about it: who are the wisest business leaders of all time? Who would you nominate?

Here’s an interesting article worth reading, published in CNN Money in 2003, written by Jim Collins, The 10 Greatest CEOs of All Time: What these extraordinary leaders can teach today’s troubled executives.

Social Intelligence

A less appreciated aspect of corporate skill is social wisdom. Often termed “human relations,” understanding and incorporating the diversity of “people factors” into business decisions is usually undervalued. So much of our physical and psychic energy is depleted by conflicts, stress, and competitive interpersonal tensions in business.

We know this, yet we continue to measure business success by the usual marketplace yardsticks of sales, profits, dividends and other bottom line results. We forget the other issues, such as job satisfaction, quality of workplace, sense of personal fulfillment, and innovative and creative opportunities.

What if we exercised executive wisdom by focusing on maximizing the potentials of both the organization and its employees? How would that impact leadership decisions? How many companies have floundered by focusing on the numbers while ignoring their people?

Business Compassion

Is compassion compatible with good business? Recent studies suggest that those businesses that maintain a right-minded and socially aware focus develop strong and healthy bottom lines. One study compared financial results of companies with higher commitments to charitable giving and found they were more profitable.


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