The financial world imploded nearly 4 years ago despite the assertion that the smartest minds in banking, insurance, and international finance were at the controls. It turns out that being smart doesn’t trump greed, and it certainly isn’t a barometer of wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment. Nothing any of the players in the meltdown did could be defined as wise.

Wellness leaders seeking long-term success for their organization as well as themselves should have this objective: to make wise decisions about programs, people, and resources — not just expedient, smart decisions. That’s easier said than done in corporate America, where pressure to produce quarterly gains that exceed last year’s often overshadows the goal of decades-long growth and sustainability.

Yet if you want a fulfilling, meaningful career in health promotion, you’re more likely to achieve it by striving for wisdom in your approach — not just being right, but using good judgment while attaining the knowledge to further your program and career. Some traits to cultivate:

  • Goodness. Few professions are more aligned with helping others than wellness. Remember that every day, and resist the temptation to boil everything down to ROI.
  • Understanding. Most human needs are pretty simple. Seek first to understand the needs of those you serve, then to be understood.
  • Sharing. Make it your mission to share what you know with others and create an environment where sharing takes place freely and without risk.
  • Communicating. Ironically, our always-connected, 100%-accessible business and personal lives may be hurting our ability to communicate effectively. It’s hard to tell a story with context when you’re limited to 140 characters. Or convey an emotion when every exchange is laced with shorthand. Make it a personal goal to communicate more in person — with stories, metaphors, and other precise, concrete language — to sharpen your skills.
  • Mobilizing. While most great ideas start with an individual, execution typically involves the talents and energy of many. Outstanding wellness leaders work hard to bring together the best, outline challenging goals, then support and nurture group members.
  • Teaching. Having made the first 5 traits in this list their own, the wise wellness leader knows the next highest duty is to prepare for their departure. That means identifying talent to take over the reins and build on success.
Having your heart in the right place is a start, but it’s not enough. Wise wellness leaders need to develop this skill set in a practical way, seeking out the best leaders in other disciplines for advice, then benchmarking their own growth.

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