Knowledge and Experience: The Two-Pronged Approach to Leadership

There is a world of difference between a leader and a boss. While being a boss requires functionality and strict rules, only a few people can qualify as true leaders. Leaders essentially combine their knowledge and profound experiences to inspire their followers with a sense of purpose.

However, some leaders only focus on the benefits of knowledge and restrict their expertise to learning theoretical frameworks, while other leaders only regard their life experiences as the primary motivation to inspire the people under them.

Both the approaches to leadership are wrong. Let’s have a look at the individual importance of both knowledge and experience and how by combining the two can a leader become successful.

The Difference between Knowledge and Experience

Knowledge is non-empirical. It is the process of learning things in theory and logically understanding concepts. Therefore, it is a heavily conscious process of learning facts, skills, and information with full awareness. The things we learn in textbooks or by researching all come under the umbrella of knowledge.

Experience, on the other hand, can be an event or an occurrence that tends to leave a deep impression on us. It is the realistic involvement and practical contact with the things we’ve learnt as facts and information. You may have studied the fruits of patience in your religious script, but to actually live through them in your life is what essentially counts as experience.

What is More Important?

It all comes down to this question – is knowledge more important than experience or the other way round? The answer is both. Both knowledge and experience go hand in hand. Neither can replace or substitute the other.

Knowledge and experience are tied in an inextricable relationship. They simply can’t be separated. In fact, in some ways, the value of both knowledge and experience can diminish if either of them is sought without also seeking the other.

Even when learning knowledge is an active process, it is mainly bookish and based on theoretical material. Experience, on the other hand, is quite similar to practical application. Let’s take an example.

As a leader, you may study the immediate steps to take in order to fix a conflict resolution. There could be many theories that have fixed rules and assumptions. However, the situations of the real world may have stark differences from what you’ve read in a book. This may require you to tweak your knowledge and resolve the conflict as appropriate to the situation at hand.

Experience, on the other hand, involves your senses because of which it is more grounded and plays a bigger role in defining your personality. There is a possibility that you may end up forgetting bookish knowledge, but experience is impossible to neglect.

If the importance of both knowledge and experience is so crucial for a mere student, one can only imagine its significance for a leader. True leaders carry heavy responsibilities on their shoulders. They have to guide their followers, give them a sense of purpose, and work hard to achieve targets on time. Whether it’s a corporate or social leader, the virtues and traits of leadership are the same for all.

Knowledge and Experience: the Two-Pronged Approach to Leadership

Now, that we know the incomparable significance of both knowledge and experience, we can safely say that true leadership is only achieved by combining the two.

You should study the different virtues of leadership like patience, tolerance, emotional intelligence, courage, and humility. While this will be your knowledge, your experience will step in when you start applying these virtues in your daily life.

Practicing patience and endurance with the people you interact with on a daily basis will help you understand the different situations you can come across. As a leader, you will be personally experiencing these situations, which will help you enhance your knowledge.

When you start sharing your knowledge and your valuable experience with your followers, they will also be inspired to do the same. Hence, there is no doubt that knowledge and experience is the only right two-pronged approach to leadership.

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