Wisdom wanted

I had the privilege to attend the Wisdom wanted -seminar arranged by CMI, Crises Management Initiative, and The Elders, Independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights.

There were many wise individuals on stage, such as Martti Ahtisaari, Nobel Peace laureate, former President of Finland, and founder of CMI, Sauli Niinistö, President of Finland, and Kofi Annan, former United Nations Secretary-General, among others. The seminar was also a double birthday celebration – Martti Ahtisaari turning 80, and Finland 100 years.

Wisdome delivered

”All conflicts can be resolved if there is will”, stated Martti Ahtisaari. He, if anybody, should know. Dialogue and inclusiveness are keys to conflict resolving.

”You cannot evaluate whether your own leadership is good or bad. The people you lead are the ones to evaluate that”, argued Graca Machel, former education Minister of Mozambique and widow to Nelson Mandela.

“To lead is to serve”, claimed Ernesto Zedillo, former president of Mexico.

Words, such as integrity, human dignity, ethics, respect, courage and patience, emotional intelligence, conflict prevention, cooperation, including the young, were frequently used. The role of the business community in making the world a better place to live, was also brought up.

So there I sat humbly, thinking while listening: how could we have more of this wisdom in business, companies and organizations, or working life in general?

All the aforementioned thoughts and words can and should be present in day-to-day leadership, business and work. Those thoughts are increasingly referred to as ingredients for success in prospering companies.

I would add good manners and adult behavior to the above list. Especially in challenging situations and crises, when there is a difference of opinion, or employment termination situation. Remembering to show courtesy in everyday interaction with people – with our team mates, customers, and other stakeholders. Returning phone calls, getting back to a person with a question, acknowledging the receipt of an e-mail, asking ”Hello, how are you today?”, or by never being a no-show at seminars or restaurants. Good manners are also a vital part of leadership. I especially like the thought that “the people you serve (or lead) are the ones to evaluate your leadership”.

Imagine how much more we could achieve in business and as a nation if we managed to activate the full potential of people. And how we could improve our productivity and results if everyone thought that their work is both meaningful and appreciated. If each individual felt that he has a good leader as a boss. Therefore, I think that our joint mission could be: ”Work with Meaning, and Wise Leadership for All”.


Staffan Kurtén

HRM Partners Oy