Do older leaders need to be wise? The Relationship between age, wisdom and leadership

Claire Greaves (2011). Do older leaders need to be wise? The Relationship between age, wisdom and leadership Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

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Author Claire Greaves
Thesis Title Do older leaders need to be wise? The Relationship between age, wisdom and leadership
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011-10-12
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Dr Hannes Zacher
Total pages 106
Language eng
Subjects 1701 Psychology
Abstract/Summary Wisdom has been described as the pinnacle of adult development. However, wisdom has been a neglected topic in the organisational psychology literature. What are the specific and shared effects of wisdom and age on successful leadership in the work context? The present study investigated this question by examining the relationships between wisdom, age and authentic and transformational leadership of high school employees (N = 77). Wisdom was conceptualised as expertise in the fundamental pragmatics of life (Baltes & Staudinger, 2000), and involves five criteria: (1) rich factual knowledge, (2) rich procedural knowledge, (3) lifespan contextualism, (4) relativism of values and life priorities, and (5) the recognition and management of uncertainty. I adapted Baltes and Staudinger‟s (2000) methodology by conducting 12-minute interviews to assess wisdom. Participants‟ colleagues completed questionnaires about participants‟ leadership styles. Certain facets of wisdom were significantly associated with peers‟ leadership ratings after controlling for narcissism, emotional intelligence and gender. The relativism of values and life priorities was negatively associated with peer-reported transformational and authentic leadership behaviours. Conversely, the recognition and management of uncertainty was positively associated with peer-reported leadership behaviours. Age was unrelated to leadership, and did not significantly moderate the relations between wisdom and leadership. However, age was negatively associated with certain facets of wisdom. Practical implications include training and development of leadership candidates. Future research may consider the organisational context, for example, whether wise leaders are more successful in uncertain business environments.
Keyword Wisdom and age
Transformational leadership
Authentic leadership

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Created: Thu, 14 Jun 2012, 11:00:16 EST by Mrs Ann Lee on behalf of School of Psychology