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'Wise' 21st Century Leadership, Defined: The 8 Multidimensional Senses Wise Leaders Must Choose to Succeed in the 21st Century

04/02/2015 01:20 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

In Dr. Kiko Suarez' recent TEDx Indianapolis talk, he masterfully outlines the findings of his research resulting in wisdom defined by a multi-dimensional system. He asserts that wise people utilize eight senses. The first sense Dr. Suarez highlights is that "Wise people love to learn. They look for data. They look for evidence. This is the rational side." As we prepare tomorrow's leaders, we must pursue and encourage a love of learning, always asking questions.

The second key sense of the multidimensional system wise people choose is "their intuitive sense; there is more and more research that says intuition plays a role in our lives and wise people let her in. They mix it with their other senses". Wise leaders must make a conscious effort to engage their intuitive sense as part of their overall decision making processes.

"The practical sense, this comes from experience. Can I use that? Is it useful? Can I put it to work?" This third sense is a vital element which infuses perspective with experience to derive a logical decision framework. Leadership development must include experiential elements to ensure that practical sense is a choice.

"The ethical sense, this is where the rubber hits the road about what is right or wrong. Wise people ask the question "who benefits now?" Simple right?" As a leader considers the decision points this fourth sense, the ethical sense, is the overarching level that provides balance and equity.

"Aesthetic....this is about the outcomes, beautiful outcomes vs. ugly outcomes". This fifth sense is where the final outcome is assessed, what does the outcome look like. As a leader ponders the outcome, this sense allows the leader to visualize whether the outcomes meet the original intent.

"Adaptive...Wise people embrace change. They do not just reject it. They understand that they cannot just change every time the circumstances around you do." This sixth sense is vital for leaders in the 21st Century. As Dr. Suarez states, "You are flexible. You adapt."

"Timeness....It's the sense of time, the sense of past, present and future. Wise people take into consideration what happened in the past, what happened to get us where we are today, and what could happen in the future." As leaders in the 21st Century, timeness will be essential to inform decisions affecting organizational mission.

The eighth and last sense outlined by Dr. Suarez is balance. "This ability to be tempered when challenged, not being swayed by extremes. Being able to recognize that between point A and B there's a continuum of options holding paradoxes and contradiction". As leaders prepare for the profound challenges facing the planet, they must choose to balance their decisions to derive positive outcomes.

As we infuse this process of "wise design" into leadership development, Dr. Suarez asks us to ponder a quote by the Dalai Lama when he was asked "what surprises him most about humanity. He said, "humans, because we sacrifice our health in order to make money. Then we sacrifice our money to recuperate our health. Then we are so anxious about the future we don't enjoy the present. The result being that we don't live in the present or the future. We live as if we are never going to die, and then die having never really lived."

21st century leaders must fill the "wisdom gap" by choosing "wise design" this is Wise - 21st Century Leadership, Defined. This will indeed change the world!

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Kiko Suarez