Leadership Series:(10) Sound Judgement.By Victor A. Imhangbe

Making good and well-informed judgments is a leader’s most important role in any organisation. Wise decisions are pivotal to producing desired outcomes. When a leader is consistent in making positive judgment, little else matters. However, when leaders show poor judgment, nothing else matters. Of course, it isn’t humanly possible to make the right call every single time. But the most effective leaders make a high percentage of successful judgment calls, at the times when it counts the most.

As a good friend can be counted on to listen well and encourage you to make wise decisions, a credible person can be counted on to analyze complex situations, ask intelligent questions, and make good decisions. A person with sound judgment usually has both cognitive and intuitive gifts.  This person takes a big-picture rather than a myopic view and a long-term rather than a short-term perspective.

In the course of our lives, every one of us makes some decisions, some brings temporary outcome while some bring permanent outcomes. There is trivial decision like what kind of breakfast I should take in the morning, and some are monumental in nature, such as whom to get marry to. Of course our ability to make the right and objective decision will go to a large extent to determine the quality of our lives; for leaders, the significance and consequences of decisions are magnified exponentially, because they influence the lives and livelihoods of majority of people. In a nutshell, it is the leader’s decision that determines the success or failure of organisations. Also on a more personal level, it is the leader’s judgment calls that will deliver the verdict on his or her career; and life.

Sadly, it is worth noting that leadership literature has been conspicuously silent on this topic. A lot of people believe that good judgment is hard to clearly define. What factors that determine good judgment? Is good judgment different from common sense or just instinct? Is it a product of gambling or luck? Is it a product of being smart?

For satisfactory answers to the above, let me make reference to a research study conducted by; Tichy et al, and his Harvard Business Review team. The focused is thinking on the topic: The findings shows most of leader’s important decision is based on three sources: people, strategy, or crisis. People judgments; getting the right people on your team and developing up-and-comers who themselves demonstrate good judgment; are foundational. The people around you help you make good strategy judgment calls and the best decisions during the occasional but inevitable crisis. It’s sometimes possible to repair the damage; to a company or a career; that results from misjudgments about strategy or crises, but it is almost impossible to recover from poor people judgment.

The second finding was that judgment doesn’t occur in a single moment but grows out of a process. Leaders who regularly demonstrate good judgment aren’t just having a series of terrific (or lucky) moments. Like umpires and referees, leaders do, at some point, make a call. But unlike umpires and referees, they cannot quickly reject dissent and move on. Rather, successful leaders make their calls in the middle of a process that unfolds over three phases. First is preparation, during which leaders sense and frame the issue that will demand a judgment call, and align their team members so that everyone understands why the call is important. Second is the call itself; the moment of decision. And third are execution; making it happen while learning and adjusting along the way. Leaders may not be able to change their calls, but they can almost always change course during execution if they are open to feedback and committed to follow-through.

Of most important to good leaders is to take advantage of “redo loops,” which can occur throughout the process. When you run into resistance for instance, when you’re trying to mobilise and align your team during the preparation phase, you may be able to pinpoint an error in framing the issue. This can only be possible if you recognise judgment as a process, you have a chance to go back and correct the framing before you move on to the taking decision. On the other hand, if you treat a judgment call as an event; you make a decision and then plunge on to the next; you’re bound to fail at execution because you don’t have the necessary support.

Let’s use former Hewlet-Packard CEO to buttress the topic. Carly Fiorina; a visionary leader and courageous in making decision. Unfortunately, she constantly made poor judgments in terms of people. Too much concentration was on the call, and less attention to associated challenges of preparation and execution, at a time when she made a decision to acquire Compaq. She fails to build a team of people that align with her vision, then she was unable to make it through the execution level. A judgment that is not successfully executed will automatically be a failed judgment no matter how smart the plan behind it. It turns out Fiorina did not take advantage of a redo loop to go back and gain support for her call.

A savvy CEO, for example, might have a track record of acquiring businesses or creating products just ahead of demand.  This person has a track record of correctly anticipating future trends and preparing for them.

To boost your credibility on this element, take the following actions:

  • Consider the impact of your decisions on other departments and groups
  • Ask others for input into your decisions—especially regarding the impact on them
  • Avoid snap judgments
  • Be willing to admit mistakes
  • Read books and listen to tapes by management and relationship specialists
  • Stay current on the trends within your industry and company

From the above, we understand leadership decision is based on:people, strategy, or crisis.We can also understand that;judgment doesn’t occur in a single moment but grows out of a process.. In our next series, we shall be looking into the fouth element of credibility which is relational sensitivity as one of the major feature of a leader. Your opinion and feedback is expected on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Kindly share.


Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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