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Daily Leadership Thought #123 – It All Comes Down To Judgment


We all reach a point where we have to make decisions based on imperfect and sometimes even contradictory information. There is no “perfect” decision. Whether it is who we hire, when we enter new markets, how much to invest in new products and technologies, when to expand or contract a business relationship, or any other number of issues, leadership ultimately comes down to judgment. In addition, in our personal lives we will all hit crossroads, where the decisions we make will literally have an impact on the rest of our lives. There is always the risk you may make the wrong decision, but you try to mitigate this risk through sound judgment.

Judgment is something that is built over time. It is the based on the sum total of both the good and bad decisions you’ve made up to a given point and what you’ve learned from these situations. It stems from how you were raised and the personal values and self-awareness you gained through your parents. It is related to how much attention you paid in school and the quality of education you received as a child and young adult. It also is related to your own personal commitment to on-going learning and professional development. It is reinforced through your personal and business relationships and the people you listen to and choose to spend the most time with. It is grounded in your thinking regarding moral, ethical and spiritual issues. It basically comes down to your attitude about life, critical thinking ability and willingness to be open-minded and learn from experience.

It never ceases to amaze me how very smart people can make very bad decisions. In fact, some of the biggest blunders we’ve had to overcome as a society over the past century have been made by exceptionally talented people. Whether is was resisting the tides of technological change, thinking you are smarter than the market, having the hubris to believe your own personal philosophy or ideology trumped human nature and conventional wisdom, justifying aberrant or immoral behavior for the greater good, or ignoring obvious warning signs of impending catastrophe, it is clear that some gifted people chose to exercise poor judgment or no judgment at all. They chose to operate in a decision making vacuum where validating what they already believed was more important than understanding and accepting reality and the real truth regarding their circumstances.

Whether we like it or not, all decisions have consequences and the best way to mitigate adverse outcomes is to ensure we are building and using good judgment as individuals, leaders and communities. This journey never ends and we need to hold each other accountable for our actions and learning from experience.  How sound is your judgment?  And, how do you know?

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