Leadership and… Conventional Wisdom
March 9, 2011 4 Comments
Changing Times, Changing Perspectives
Today we know that the Earth is a sphere, but there was a time when the conventional wisdom held that the Earth was flat.
Today we know that the Earth rotates around the sun, but there was a time when the conventional wisdom held that the sun revolved around the Earth.
What is Conventional Wisdom?
So what is “conventional wisdom” then? Not timeless truths or facts. It’s our current understanding of things. As our research shows us new connections and unravels mysteries, though, we are not always quick to change our conventional wisdom. Why? Because it has become easy and familiar.
“This inertia is due to conventional wisdom being made of ideas that are convenient, appealing and deeply assumed by the public, who hangs on to them even as they grow outdated. The unavoidable outcome is these ideas will eventually not match reality at all, so conventional wisdom will be violently shaken until it doesn’t conflict reality so blatantly.”
Excerpt from the Wikipedia Definition of “Conventional Wisdom at Wikipedia.com
Sticking to yesterday’s conventional wisdom can make us out-of-date, because it helps us ignore any information that contradicts our beliefs. It can lead us to make decisions based on out-of-date ways of thinking, and that may result in missed opportunities or even to bad decisions that can harm others. In this case, even though we do not set out to make bad decisions, the consequences of those decisions are just as real.
BE OPEN TO CHANGE, WILLING TO CHANGE AND WILLING TO THINK DIFFERENTLY!
Interesting article: Conventional Leadership Wisdom is Wrong – And Why We Need to Change by Ron Thomas, HumanCapitalLeague.com
Questions for Reflection
1. Where am I still holding on to conventional wisdom that is wrong in my life and work?
2. How could that be impacting my choices and my ethics?
3. How will I rid myself of the conventional wisdom that’s making my approach outdated?
4. How might doing that resolve some of the conflicts that I’m experiencing?
Linda Fisher Thornton is Owner of Leading in Context LLC, a consulting firm that helps businesses build ethical cultures. She is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Leadership for the University of Richmond School of Continuing Studies. Her most recent publication “Different” is at the intersection of Diversity & Inclusion, Innovation, Leadership and Ethics.
March 2011 Leading in Context Press Release: New Approach Makes Leadership Ethics Training Accessible in a Down Economy.