The Responsibility of Judging

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One of my pet peeves is when someone says its wrong to judge.  Apart from the fact that the statement itself is a contradiction, I would challenge anyone to go for more than five waking minutes without making some kind of judgment.  Judging in an inescapable part of being a conscious entity and in the end, we all have a responsibility to judge.  Therefore, it is essential that we learn to judge responsibly.

Leaders must be willing and able to make difficult decisions that are fair, reasonable, consistent and in the best interests of the business and the people who make up that business.  This doesn’t mean that we anoint ourselves as judge and jury about everyone in the office, but it DOES mean that we have a responsibility from time to time to make judgments – sometimes difficult ones – as part of our role in protecting the organization’s culture.

Some things to consider in applying this principle:

  • Fairness: First and foremost, your standards must be fair and reasonable.  Holding oneself and others to unattainable standards makes no sense.  At the same time, you’re doing no one a favor if your standards are too lenient.  Expect the best out of yourself and others and act accordingly.
  • Consistency: Apply your standards consistently, irrespective of the individual or situation.  Consistency is not only the right thing to do, but it also builds your personal brand as someone who has integrity.
  • Tact: There’s no need to hold forth on your standards or how you view the act of judging.  Let your actions speak for you.  This isn’t about branding yourself as ‘the judgement guy’; it’s about fidelity to your principles.
  • Learn: While its essential to maintain integrity and consistency, you also need to be open to one very important fact; you could be wrong.  In the end, it’s better to BE right than to APPEAR right, so always be open to assessing your own thinking.  Wanting to BE right, means you have to be open to being straightened out from time to time.

We get into trouble when we judge others in a way that isn’t fair.  We also get into trouble when we take it upon ourselves to judge unnecessarily.  As leaders, we need to make judgments about people when we hire, coach up, coach out and promote our teams.  Accept the responsibility of judging and do so with integrity, consistency and tact.  Exemplary leadership demands consistency, leadership by example and fairness.

© 2011, Mark E. Calabrese

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