A Wise Leader Does Not Think So Much

All of us are guilty of getting caught up in too much thinking, too much analysis, too much data. By nature leaders tend to be overthinkers, and we can become victims of staying too much in our head. A wise leader brings to bear not only knowledge but wisdom, and sometimes wisdom tells us not to think too much.

Thinking is good, but when does too much mind become a hurdle?

When it creates “analysis paralysis.” The start to solving any problem is seeking information, but faced with an overabundance of data, background, facts, and numbers, it’s easy to freeze up under the weight of your thoughts.

Wise leaders use data to guide decisions but don’t get bogged down by it.

When it keeps you in a knowledge trap. Trying to weigh every bit of information against all possible outcomes leads to exhaustion and burnout. Learn to trust your instincts—after all, they’re grounded in your knowledge and experience.

Wise leaders understand the difference between knowing everything and knowing what to do. They grasp the key issues of the moment and act on them decisively.

When it keeps you from moving forward. Leaders have visions, dreams, and bright ideas. Building forward momentum takes an enormous amount of effort, and it will never happen if your mind holds you back waiting for perfection.

Wise leaders know to take a leap forward in imperfect circumstances. They know that thinking can’t replace action.

When it keeps you fearful. Fear is a natural emotion and is useful in its place, but fear that keeps you stuck, playing small and avoiding risk, is bad for your leadership and devastating to those you lead. In the grip of fear, it’s easy to define yourself by mistakes and failures—your own or others’—and allow your past to remain their destiny.

Wise leaders listen to their fears but are not led by them. They find ways to be courageous and prevent emotional complications from affecting their judgment.

When it keeps from being honest with yourself. We all have ideas about who we are and what we are about. When thinking feeds that ego, it keeps us from understanding and learning new things about ourselves.

Wise leaders understand that to grow is to listen and to develop is to learn.

In short, wise leaders know when thinking gets in their way of leading, and they allow what they know in their heart to lead the way.

To become a wise leader yourself, you need to master the skills that moderate your thinking—from examining situations to interpreting information—learn to apply your wisdom to your leadership, and keep growing.

Our thoughts are not just containers for our thinking, they are impressions that should be fired up and ignited.

Lead From Within: A wise leader quickly senses what lies behind a situation and decides on the needed action. Practical wisdom enables leaders to intuitively understand the nature and meaning of people, things, and events.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Martina

    25. Mar, 2014

    Excellent words Lolly.

    There is an important difference between being knowledgeable and being wise. Knowledge can be a trap when we use it for information, or building a case, but becomes totally useless if we never act upon it.

    Knowledge is the accumulation of data, but wisdom, the true prize, is knowing how and when to use it. And good to great leaders are wise.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Terri Klass

    25. Mar, 2014

    Wonderful and important post, Lolly!

    I have partnered with people who are never satisfied with the data they have collected and refuse to make decisions unless more information is obtained. As you state so beautifully- “Wise leaders understand the difference between knowing everything and knowing what to do.”

    When leaders lack confidence or fear that they will make the wrong choice, they perpetually add more and more information to their pile. That additional knowledge only throws them off and makes them procrastinate. They are surrounded with knowledge but have no wisdom on how to act to on it. Just do it! So what if the actions needs to be adjusted.


    Reply to this comment
    • Ted Mellamphy

      24. May, 2015

      If a leader lacks confidence or is afraid of making the wrong choice, then he or she is not a leader!

      Reply to this comment
  3. LaRae Quy

    25. Mar, 2014

    This post is a great reminder that the brain is capable of having emotions and feelings AS WELL AS thinking…too often we think the brain is only about thinking.

    Having a strong mind is understanding how to integrate all of these aspects and not concentrate on just one.

    Loved this!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Panteli Tritchew

    25. Mar, 2014

    Many of us fall into the “knowledge trap” of “analysis paralysis,” whether by default or by design. We wish to act decisively, to be guided by wisdom, to leap from logic to intuition, to go with the gut, to heed the heart, and yet…and yet…
    Entire armies of societal theories and principles stand shoulder to shoulder, aligned against our impulse to make this leap. Critical thinking and logical analysis, research and data acquisition, the singular belief that there is a best way forward or a right answer, these are the shock troops.
    For some, Consultation and Collaboration have become the new idols—ends in themselves, rather than means. Discourse is more delicious than decision making, after-all.
    The impulse to keep diverging, searching for more data, and the impulse to start converging towards a decision, these are the armies that clash within. A wise leader can harness this creative tension if they can tune in to the tipping point and “allow what they know in their heart to lead the way.” Sending warm thoughts from Vancouver!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      25. Mar, 2014

      You are so right Panteli,

      A leader – and most certainly “a wise leader can harness this creative tension if they can tune in to the tipping point and “allow what they know in their heart to lead the way.”

      Thanks for sharing your insight.


      Reply to this comment
  5. Rita

    25. Mar, 2014

    Hi Lolly
    Excellent content. Listening is most certainly a skill that everyone can use. By listening to others you gain knowledge and this can sometimes give you a better idea of the people you lead.
    Old Congo Proverb: If he does not listen let adversity teach him. ~ Thanks for sharing.

    Reply to this comment
    • Ted Mellamphy

      24. May, 2015

      Nice post Rita.
      We have two ears & one mouth & they should be used proportionally!

      Reply to this comment
  6. Alli Polin

    25. Mar, 2014

    Thinking leaders can control the outcome by relying on data trends to point us in the right direction also misses the wisdom of sharing the truth.

    Our division was struggling and the SVP decided to shield the front line from the reality of our position for so long that the day the layoffs came was a shock. There is wisdom on the front line too – and creative thinking. Tapping into more smarts and knowledge of the wider team could have led to a different outcome than the fear-based control-centric focus of keeping everyone heads down and cranking out the work.

    Thanks, Lolly!

    ~ Alli

    Reply to this comment
  7. Janet

    25. Mar, 2014

    This article triggered a resolve I have found using IQTELL.

    Since I simply cannot stop thinking, I simply place all my ideas in IQTELL’s action box. It becomes recorded and my thoughts are cleared. I repeat this process until every thought is recorded and I stop obsessing. My head is calm and I can revisit my thoughts (mentally) often giving me a new perspective because all my previous thoughts have been uploaded to IQTELL which I can always refer to later. It really works for me and I can stop thinking so much.

    People who have enjoyed Lolly’s article should seriously consider experimenting with IQTELL. It is designed intelligently and goes where you go.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Ruth Schwartz

    26. Mar, 2014

    Awesome post. I like #5 best. One more for the list: Leaders don’t have to know it all. They ask and then listen to others. This is a beautiful post and I’ll share it widely.

    Reply to this comment
  9. Denise Boockvor

    27. Mar, 2014

    I’ve been inspired by you for awhile now, but this particular post is hitting close to home today. I’ve always been the leader behind the one in charge. For the first time, I may be stepping into the light for real & I gotta admit, there is fear there. Being reminded to get out of my own head and just do what I do – trusting my instincts which have never failed me thus far – and allow events to unfold; honestly guiding me wisely to do the right thing for us all.

    Reply to this comment
  10. http://www.janberkowitz.zoomshare.com/

    10. Jul, 2014

    I just like the helpful information you provide to your articles.
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  11. Marc Zazeela

    28. Jul, 2014

    Makes so much sense. Think about the greatest leaders of all time and they were more instinctive than reflective. Think about the greatest thinkers of all time and they usually were not the best leaders.

    Reply to this comment
  12. Bob Richards

    21. May, 2015

    I thought long and hard whether to post this. lol Kidding. Read a solution once about overthinking….allow a measure of time to do research on a certain day a decision will be made and stay with that. If not you keep going in circles with no end in sight.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Nisha Varghese

    27. Aug, 2015

    “moderate your thinking.” Love that Lolly!

    Reply to this comment

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