Knowledge, Belief and Leadership

A reminder of the genius of one of the greatest comedy series of all time:

Sir Humphrey: “Have you read the Financial Times this morning?”
Banker: “Never do”
Sir Humphrey: “Well you’re a banker, surely you read the Financial Times?”
Banker: “Can’t understand it, Full of Economic Theory”
Sir Humphrey: “Why do you buy it?”
Banker: “oh, you know, part of the uniform”

This clip illustrates how far and how high a senior executive can climb with limited knowledge and only lots of belief in themselves and their ideas.

Am recently back from Kilkenomics and seeking to distil learnings from so many amazing people, including so many brilliant economists with so much knowledge to share.

One of those is that there still remains a vast gap between the immense knowledge in the ecosystem of economists and mutual understanding and sharing between them and business leaders, who may not be as wilfully ignorant as the banker in the clip, but nonetheless have no time to think, to learn, to gain knowledge.

Business “leaders” are typically in fact managers or at best “uber co-ordinators”, are rewarded for making quick decisions, are focussed on managing for short term results rather taking time to research. Such a set up acts against the opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding at a level that supports critical thinking and transformative decision making to truly shift their businesses.

My own particular focus, though I am indeed an Economics geek and read and learn voraciously in that space, is, therefore, less on economic theory and data and much more on how humans react and respond to data. With that, I hope to support leaders in transformative change for the good of themselves, their business and our broader world.

Yes, there is a growing field labelled Behavioural Economics (which I love!) and recognition is slowly growing among traditional economists for this, but the gap in understanding between how people lead (and are lead) and traditional economic theory still seems so wide. Attending Kilkenomics left me feeling some positivity around bridging the gap, but also that the gap is still very large in many areas.

So, those are observations and beliefs!

To switch to one thought and a reference to what readers can look at in this space, another belief I have is that people in fact lead from belief, rather than knowledge. How we come to reach our beliefs is a deeply researched field in itself. Should you wish to look into this, I recommend “Leading with Belief” by Dr Robert Morton. I have worked with Robert on a transformative global leadership programme and I believe (again “how do I know what I know?” !) that his concepts are extremely valuable in bridging the gaps between knowledge and belief so as to support leadership for transformative change.

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