Leadership Wisdom & the PenZon Principle

March 30, 2018

Lift Your Lead in 200 words*


Leadership Wisdom & The PenZon Principle
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.

Leaders make decisions in the presence of ambiguity – uncertainty and doubt. If the decision is obvious, a no-brain-er, leadership wisdom is not required. Wisdom is needed when there is confusion, conflict, or uncertainty and pressure to “act.”

Leaders thrive in the presence of ambiguity, uncertainty, vagueness and doubt. A leadership moment comes when it is not possible to gather all the information you would like, the situation is open to several interpretations, motives are unclear, and the facts are disputed. Here is a harsh fact: If you cannot tolerate ambiguity, you will not be able to lead. The good news is that you can increase your tolerance for ambiguity and in doing so make better decisions.

You never know everything you would like to know, yet you must decide under pressure. Leadership wisdom improves when you understand and practice the PenZon Principle. The PenZon Principle is simple to understand:

“What’s the best decision?
It PenZon this,
and PenZon that,
and PenZon the other thing.”

When a decision is clear to everyone, wisdom is not required. It is when the decisions unclear when the decision PenZon (depends on) many different things that leadership wisdom is needed.


Most people read about 200 words a minute; this article is 208 words.

About the Author:

Dr. Richard Leslie Parrott is a Professor of Education at Trevecca Nazarene University. He teaches classes at the Masters and Doctoral level in Leadership and Research. At Trevecca he is also the Director of C.L.E.A.R. – The Center of Leadership Effectiveness and Renewal.