Have you heard that knowledge is power? Many of you likely have heard this quote attributed to Sir Francis Bacon. Conversely, in the practice of leadership, it is the right-use of knowledge that proves to be the power. How often do we see those who know better, do not go and show better? Furthermore, do we find ourselves at times knowing, but not showing? How often do we see knowledge misused and abused? At times we may find ourselves subjects of such misuse. How often do you see no use of that which is known? Moreover, due to the wrong-use or non-use knowledge, the same becomes useless in a context (e.g., an owner’s manual, instructions, laws, guidelines, and others). Knowledge is one dimension of a new multidimensional leadership construct that stems from leadership’s grand theory (LGT).
The Knowledge Dimension
The leadership construct contains five dimensions (1) knowledge, (2) wisdom, (3) understanding, ( 4) purpose, and (5) the agape moral virtue. The leadership mind map below shows the necessary elements of a sustainable leadership. Each element, including knowledge is practical, prescriptive, and applicable in any context to facilitate the relational practice of leadership.
Knowledge found in various forms (e.g., tacit, coded, gnosis, and techne) is one dimension of leadership in any context. Knowledge of the natural sustainable framework helps leaders in the sustainability space. However in the context of sustainability, the foundation of leadership does not change. Leadership based on LGT facilitates effective practice in the space. There is a certain knowledge that comes from life experience, knowledge that is hard to describe, knowledge about self and others, along with varying degrees of technical knowledge. The good thing is, the leader does not have to have all of these and others, but must know how to access knowledge from constituents. There is more to discuss in the future on the knowledge dimension of leadership.
The Right-Use or Else
For leadership, it is the right-use of knowledge that helps to sustain it. The Arthur Anderson organization began in 1913, with the youngest certified public accountant in the state of Illinois. It was one of the big five accounting firms, and one of the largest multinational organizations in the world. In short, when the powerful firm lost focus of the right things instilled by its founder, the organization failed. Consequently to Arthur Anderson’s leadership failure, the organization gave up its license in 2002. However, the surrender of its license was despite an increase in its revenues and 89 years of experience. So, the firm’s technical knowledge and vast experience did not rescue it. Thus, the Arthur Anderson organization is now associated with several of the world’s largest organizational failures to date, including its own.
Importantly, what happened in example case and in over 2,000 studied cases, is consistent with the findings of the study underpinning leadership’s grand theory. The general theory is predictive and preventive of leadership failure. The right use of knowledge is helps to ensure effectiveness and sustain the leader and the practice.