Collective intelligence in applying knowledge and understanding to practice.
What is Intelligent Leadership?
The process of Intelligent Leadership is a means by which we are able to make sense of problems or issues. Intelligence is less to do with personal or emotional intelligence but is more to do with collective intelligence in applying knowledge and understanding to the practice of leading.
We can return to the ancient classics to understand this concept. Aristotle identified five states of virtue that equalled truth:
Intuitive reason (Nous)
Scientific knowledge (Episteme)
Philosophic wisdom (Sophia)
Practical wisdom (Phronesis)
From Aristotle to Global Leadership
Everything that we do as human beings impacts others and our planet; equally, everything that we do within our home and working lives involves relationships of one form or another. This has implications for leadership and, as history has shown us repeatedly, human beings are flawed!
Ethics play a key role in ensuring that we as human beings can balance our behaviours. Our ancient Greek forefathers looked for the ‘mean’ between two extremities in determining both the character (ethos) and thought (dianoia) of our soul (psyche). The first (character) is driven by desires whereas the latter (thought) is determined by reason.
In arguing for intelligent leadership, what we are really arguing for is an evidence-based approach to leadership. Grounding this in the ancient philosophy (meaning “love of wisdom”) of Aristotle (and Plato and Socrates before him, respectively) has real merit. In that much less complicated world, taking time out to ‘think’ was their occupation and less cluttered by the information-overload of 2,500 years later, it still has much resonance today. Plato’s academy survived for 850 years!
If Nous (Intuitive reason) and ‘Episteme’ (Scientific Knowledge) combine to form the ‘knowledge with its head-on’ (Sophia) – as Aristotle has described it – in support of the ‘Techne’ (the making) then the resultant ‘Sophia’ (Philosophic Wisdom) and ‘Phronesis’ (Practical Wisdom) combine in bridging the gap between theory and practice. This is the gist of intelligent leadership, and is illustrated in the figure below.
Consider these five states within the concept of leadership in the twenty first century and make a note of your thoughts:
1. Are they still relevant
2. In what way/s
3. Which do you think is the most important?
References  Aristotle, Ross W.D and others (translation) (2009), The Nicomachean Ethtics: Book VI:3(p.104 of 277)