Many times, especially in tense or stressful situations, people jump to judgment. It is easy to take the information we think we know right now and reach a conclusion, make a decision, or issue a decree. Often, however, we realize after the fact that we did not have all of the information we needed, or our perception included some fallacies. In those moments, we recognize the importance of acknowledging our mistakes and may even need to apologize for hurried words or actions.
As leaders, we are unafraid of apologizing, of righting a wrong. However, we strive to be better each day, and do not want to cause a situation requiring an apology in the future because we were abrupt, unkind, or rushed to judgment. Those moments can hurt people. A leader’s intent is to build people up; however, our injudiciousness does not allow us to be our best selves, or inspire others to greatness.
Judiciousness is defined as good judgment; using wisdom and discernment in situations where we must form an opinion or make a decision. Judiciousness requires us to pause, to take a few moments to consider the information we have and where we might have information gaps. Judiciousness allows us to consider the ramifications of our response, in word and in deed.
Leaders want to be wise. We want to provide sound advice, speaking words of encouragement to others as we guide and mentor them. We hope to respond with soundness, providing actions plans in moments of crisis that create role clarity while resolving the situation at hand. Reactions are often rooted in judgment; we react to a person or situation based on a judgment we made that triggered an emotion and caused us to reply. Responding allows us a moment, however brief, to gather our thoughts, determine the appropriate level of emotion, and then provide the feedback required of us at the time.
What do we model? If we react, we often model judgment, which can be harsh and unfeeling. Judgment can stop us from listening and observing objectively, or from seeing the broader picture of how all the people and pieces fit together. If we respond, we are more likely to model judiciousness. Judiciousness provides an opportunity for us to listen, to observe, and to consider the people and pieces individually and collectively.
The leadership lesson? Jumping to judgment can create harm in our relationships. Taking a few moments to pause, to request information and listen, and to think through the consequences of our words and actions can help us to be judicious. Leaders, as we care for and lead others we must stop jumping to judgment. Instead, we must be willing to jump to judiciousness.