What is “Judgment?”
According to my dictionary, judgment is “the ability to make considered decisions or come to a sensible conclusion.” Of course, there is the other use, being “judgmental,”—meaning that we are holding others to our standards and finding them wanting in some way. When speaking of leadership, I am referring to the first definition. So “good judgment” then is in itself a judgment! For example, I will watch what a leader does to gather and process information, see what she or he finally decides, and then will judge whether or not I believe the
outcome and the process were “good.”
Begin With Information/Data
The weak link in judgment may not be errors in consideration or applying common sense. Instead, the weak link may be a lack of objective, accurate and timely data or information. Confirmation bias is rampant these days, especially when it comes to “news” sources. The same is often true of business information as well. We sometimes call it “group think.” Our employees are often the best sources of knowledge when it comes to deciding on process improvement. Are we getting the information that we need from them? (See the previous post for more thoughts on this topic.) Good judgment starts with useful information.
There is also good judgment in stopping the analysis and moving forward. My experience is that I’ve never had ALL the information I thought I needed, or at least wanted. If a leader is not vigilant, a team might easily slip into “analysis paralysis.” Right decisions require that we do not let perfection be the enemy of good enough. A leader moves projects forward, recognizing that they will never have all the desired information.
No One of Us is as Smart as All of Us
There can be only one Captain and only one CEO. There must be one person responsible for the final decision. Yet, why would we want to make any significant decisions in a vacuum? In his book Turn The Ship Around!, Captain L. David Marquet (Ret.) speaks to this concept. He explains that his ship went from the lowest-ranked ship to the top-ranked ship in the U.S. Navy by making sure every woman and man on board was thinking and contributing.
Good judgment then is a holistic solution in that it comprises new, complete, and relative data as well as consideration of the environment, to reach a sensible conclusion or decision. That sure sounds like an excellent leadership attribute to me!