Knowing the Right Thing to Do Requires Judgment

All one has to do today is look around–at the news, social media, in Boardrooms or legislative chambers–and you will see disconcerting examples of poor judgment. Such observations call to mind a story told to me recently by a friend.

It turns out a young person was out searching for the secret of wisdom and he was told of a guru who lived in the outer reaches of the Himalayas. Undaunted, the young person set out on a long journey to meet the Master and to have his question answered.

Finally, he came upon the Master sitting in the classic lotus position.

“Master,” he said, “please tell me the secret of wisdom.”

The Master replied, “Good judgment.”

“So how do you get good judgment?” the young person asked and the Master replied, “Experience.”

“So how do you get experience?” the young person asked.

“Ah,” said the Master. “Bad judgment.”

Let’s hope those in the midst of the bad decisions are on the journey to wisdom.

Leadership is most difficult if you are not doing the right things at the right time in the right way. So it’s my thinking that knowing the right thing to do requires good judgment. In fact, our success in life is the sum total of the choices and judgments we make.

Many years ago, Bennir and Tichy defined judgment as “the essence of effective leadership.” It is a contextually-informed decision-making process encompassing three domains: people, strategy and crises.

In terms of judgment calls that involve people, think about who we hire, who we promote and who we let go. Who can we trust and with what? How do we put together a productive team? This indeed is a cultural judgment domain.

Strategy judgment calls are generally about the future. What should we be doing? What should we stop doing? What should we be doing differently?

Crisis judgment calls arise or come about when we are in difficult times or dangerous moments. What makes this domain unique is the need to make time-pressured responses. What’s important to remember is the overarching goal of the organization in those moments of extreme difficulty.

Good judgment involves how we think as much as how we know. It involves intelligence and expertise, grounded values, the ability to gather information and to process it. It draws on knowledge and, to get back to the master guru, it also involves experience. Good judgment can, in fact, be learned.

With good judgment, little else matters.
Without good judgment, nothing else matters.




Proverbs 25:28 (ESV)

A man (person) without self-control is
like a city broken into and left without walls.


Can't Not Do

Get a Coach Be a Coach

Roger Connors with Jeff Adcock, Kelly Andrews and Seth Connors (Penguin, 2020)

Most all of us have had an experience with a coach, generally in athletics or within an educational setting. Coaches help us improve our performance, gain insights, measure our potential and help us become leaders.

Unfortunately, the benefits of coaching on performance in organizations have been neglected as a tool for leadership development, except perhaps for those occupying C-suites, who may have access to an “executive coach.”

Get a Coach Be a Coach, written by Roger Connors et al, addresses that shortcoming and introduces the somewhat revolutionary idea that everyone can be a coach. It is a book worth reading. The book is divided into two major sections-Get a Coach and Be a Coach. The five coaching triggers outlined in Part One were most informational and helpful, especially in answering the question, “When do I need a coach?” Here’s the answer:

  1. You’re doing something for the first time.
  2. You’re stuck and not making progress.
  3. You’re looking to accelerate progress or speed things up.
  4. You want to crush it with a “hit the ball out of the park” kind of performance.
  5. You need to do something that has highly strategic consequences.

Part Two unfolds the opportunities and requirements for being a coach yourself and shares the growth results of assisting and serving others in this capacity.

Many readers will agree with the quote from the Roman philosopher Seneca, “By teaching, we learn.” The authors make the case for a new model of leadership in these changing times and with a workforce very much interested in personal growth and development.

This new model is identified as the “Connector Manager/Leader.” The connector leader fulfills four major roles:

  • To light and maintain the spark that creates a leading/creating coaching community,
  • To provide coaches to team members and to be a coach yourself,
  • To connect employees to good-fit coaches and
  • To have a critical strategic focus that leads to success.

Throughout the book, reference is made to “MITs,” your Most Important Things to accomplish. (“What’s on your windshield?”) As you answer that question, give thought as to how a coach could help you achieve that end.

If you are curious about curiosity this book is for you.

Purchase this and other recommended books at amazon, your local bookstore or through CherryHillHighTide.com bookstore.

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