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Lead with Wisdom: How Wisdom Transforms Good Leaders into Great Leaders

ISBN: 978-1-118-63746-3
296 pages
April 2014, Wrightbooks
Lead with Wisdom: How Wisdom Transforms Good Leaders into Great Leaders (1118637461) cover image


A practical guide for leading others with wisdom, integrity, and humanity

This book argues that great leadership requires wisdom. Rather than a formulaic managerial approach to leadership, Lead with Wisdom presents the case for leadership based on our shared humanity and the stories that unite us. What emerges is a model of leadership based on learning to read key patterns of human experience: the way language shapes our reality, how we form new meaning through conversation, how relationships determine influence and how we deal with uncertainty.

It presents readers with the tools and illustrated examples to implement the four arts of leading wisely: how to draw out and create a new story in the organization, how to find and leverage the brilliance of people, how to speak with promise to restore meaning and hope, and how to show grace in dealing with the most demanding people and circumstances.

  • Offers a leadership approach rooted in our shared humanity and the stories which unite and define us
  • Ideal for corporate leaders, middle managers, administrators, and anyone else with management responsibilities
  • Written by a popular speaker on leadership and the author of Arts of the Wise Leader, with personal CEO experience and a PhD in the history of ideas
  • Structured as one key idea per page or double page spread with funky line drawings supporting the concepts and skills

For anyone who wants to lead with wisdom, integrity, and humanity, Lead with Wisdom offers a welcome alternative to traditionally robotic and formulaic leadership strategies.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xi


The Story Behind Wisdom and Leadership 3

Chapter 1: Wisdom 5

Chapter 2: Leadership 27


The Story Behind Patterns 49

Chapter 3: Naming 51

Chapter 4: Conversation 71

Chapter 5: Influence 95

Chapter 6: Character 113


The Story Behind Arts 133

Chapter 7: Story 135

Chapter 8: Brilliance 155

Chapter 9: Promise 175

Chapter 10: Grace 193


The Story Behind Application 213

Chapter 11: Leader's Journey 215

Chapter 12: Leading One 227

Chapter 13: Leading Many 243

Conclusion 257

Acknowledgements 259

Endnotes 261

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Author Information

Mark Strom, PhD, has delivered keynote addresses, seminars and retreats for thousands of leaders around the world. He consults to corporations globally on issues where leadership intersects with strategy, innovation, and engagement.

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Press Release

December 20, 2013
Lead With Wisdom: How Wisdom Transforms Good Leaders Into Great Leaders

When Mark Strom was a bricklayer’s labourer, he was in the business of mud. Not experienced enough to lay the bricks with that perfect combination of moist-but-firm mortar and trowel finesse, he learned to appreciate the value of a good mix.

In Lead with Wisdom, the Australian philosopher, historian, businessman–former brickie and truckie–uses the analogy of mud to describe the elements of wisdom as they contribute to the human structures we build; and to leadership in particular.

Strom masterfully cobbles ancient imperial and social history and philosophy, with contemporary business, corporate culture and the academy of management, via an unlikely mix including the Apostle Paul, eastern traditions, and nineteenth and twentieth century philosophers of knowledge.

Strom is a former CEO who now advises CEOs to go and walk with their executives. With a PhD in the history of ideas working with one of the world’s leading historians, he also happily gives his time to primary school teachers. He brings a strong critique of corporate structures; yet consults at the highest level of the world’s most prestigious professional services companies.

In Lead with Wisdom, Strom shows himself to be a master of the contradictions, eloquently identifying and diffusing the tensions between people and systems, leaders and the led, control and community–as they have evolved in contemporary business, government and social enterprise.

For anyone bemoaning the binary limitations and fragmentation of management and its language, this book returns people and story to the core of enterprise. And it is simple stories and their capacity to create, relate and solve that sit at the heart of this book.

Strom sees wisdom as reading the patterns of life with discernment, and acting on this understanding with integrity and care. For our benefit he discerns the patterns of naming, conversation, influence and character, then the arts of story, brilliance, promise and grace; and the skills of each.  His exploration shines a light in every corner of human enterprise to dignify and demystify. As he says, “Wisdom is big and old, but it should stay accessible and fresh.”

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