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The Clever Tomato

There’s an old saying where I’m from.  “Intelligence is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is understanding that a tomato does not belong in a fruit salad.”  Knowing and understanding sound similar, but are actually quite different.  Gauging the difference between these two concepts and recognising how to apply them is vital for a good leader to succeed. Many of us consider intelligence as “book-smarts” and wisdom as “experience”, but there are sometimes gray areas in our professional lives.  At some point they come head to head, and we are forced to think about which should take precedent.  Does the veteran manager always know better than their less-experienced team members, or is a newer way of doing things the best approach?

Well, there’s a lesson here, and it’s everyone’s job to balance them.  Regardless of position, everyone should do their part.  Ideally, less-experienced team members should speak up to explain their point of view, and veterans should listen more openly to their staff.  Maybe there is a better way of doing things.  Technologies advance, methods change, and it is hard for anyone to stay on top of the latest ideas.  If you’re a leader, pay attention to what your team is telling you.  Having options on the table is a tremendous asset to any company.   Maybe it’s worth taking a calculated risk.  As a team member, don’t just assume a “boss knows best” attitude.  There are many executives whom reached their positions, not through skill, but because they have been around the longest.  Exercise some diplomacy, in private if necessary, to explain your point of view.  Take a chance and maybe you’ll be rewarded for it.

Studying and doing each have their own benefits. The point is to avoid the, “but…we’ve always done it that way.”  Or, its counterpart, “the book says to do it this way…”; and take a step back to examine the bigger picture.  Maybe, we can all be afforded the opportunity to plan right to left to find a better answer, and avoid finding tomatoes in our fruit salads…

Listen more; talk less; be brave; stay confident.

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