5 Things Successful Leaders Judge
Judging feels awkward, mostly because we don’t like being judged. But, leaders who don’t judge follow the path of least resistance.
To neglect judging is to embrace mediocrity.
You judge all the time. Right now you’re judging this article. Is it worth reading? Will it help me develop my leadership? Is this guy nuts?
People want to be judged when it results in praise, growth, or advancement. “How am I doing?” is an invitation to be judged.
You can’t lead without judging.
5 things leaders judge:
- What was the goal?
- What are the real results?
- What behavior was essential to achieving results? (Identify one.)
- What are your first words when something goes wrong?
- Who complains all the time?
- What is your orientation to challenges, obstacles, or opposition?
- How do people feel when they’re around you?
- How did you energize or drain the people you worked with?
- How are you encouraging others to take next steps?
- Who did you include in your project? Why?
- Who should have been included? Why?
- Who made surprising contributions? What did they do?
- What are you learning about yourself, leading, and others?
- What will you avoid next time?
- How can new insights be applied to current or future activities?
Judging as condemning:
To judge something as inadequate is to condemn it. If denouncing isn’t possible, don’t bother making evaluations.
Condemnation is the first step toward transformation. Aspirations to improve point to current deficiencies.
The verbal gymnastics we use to avoid condemning poor behavior obscures the truth and slows progress.
Judging becomes useful when it moves from backward-facing condemnation to forward-facing transformation.
Judging isn’t useful when it ends with condemnation or self-confirmation.
What makes judging useful?
How does judging go wrong?
*This is the “J” installment in the Dictionary for Leaders series. Here are “J’s” for leaders suggested by Facebook Fans. Stay tuned for “K.”
One final question the leader should ask: How can I help you improve your attitude/performance/results?
Thanks Joe. Your comment made me smile. One distinguishing mark of successful leaders is their forward focus. Thanks for pointing us into the future.
No, Not how can I help YOU improve YOUR attitude.”… what can I do to help YOU improve to HELP YOURSELF to improve your attitude. INSPIRE them to MOTIVATE THEMSELVES..
just a suggestion.
Thanks for jumping in Ed. Let’s face it. We never change others. Others change themselves.
Teachers do this all the time, red pen in hand. The best students learn from this and become better writers and thinkers. Church attenders judge/evaluate the pastor…all the time. The key for pastors and other leaders is to help persons judge themselves. These 5 items are very useful for self-evaluation. Thank you, Dan.
Thanks Pete. I think self-judgement is the toughest form. It’s amazing how we can have a plank in our eye and get concerned about the speck in another’s eye, at the same time.
I had an English teacher friend voice an epiphany the other day. She said, “I used to grade papers by pointing out the flaws, the fewer the flaws the higher the grade. But then I realized that good writing (or anything) isn’t based solely on its lack of flaws but also on the number of its strengths. So I changed the way I evaluate to balance the two.” Judge and encourage.
I feel for Judging to be useful the ‘judge’ has to be respected. Those who judge to early are most likely to fail and those who ‘judge’ without ‘permission’ will be closely behind them.
I like the notion however – as initially it was very counter-intuitive to me – even though I know I do it all the time (and am aware of it 24/7). I’ll give it an 8/10 Dan 🙂
Thanks Richard. You crack me up. I’ll give your focus on the respectability of the judge and “permission” judging a 9/10. Good call!
When judging is intended to create justice, it is useful. When it promotes right behavior and right-doing, it is useful. When it is intended to create differences, it is wrong. When judging fail to provide fairness and justice, it is wrong. It is always important to have right and enough information before judging. Lack of information may impede judgement. Leaders should better check their intention before judging.
But I think, being judgmental is not good habit. We should avoid being judgmental all the time. It is important to see whether we are capable to make judgement. We should be free from many biases. We should have proven record of integrity and credibility.
Thanks Dr. Gupta. The idea that we should avoid being judgmental is particularly useful in this conversation. I’m committed to a strength based approach to leadership…I can see where being judgmental could be a distraction.
You said a lot in your comment. Thanks for adding value.
“Do not judge” is the most misused biblical verse. The full verse says: “Do not judge, or you will be judge in accordance to the same way you judge others.” The reality is just as you mentioned Dan, we judge everything around us. When we do not possess authority to judge in a situation, we still do so and keep it to ourselves (most of the time). What I believe the verse is truly saying, is that there is nothing wrong with judging, but methods, weights, and heart that you use will be applied back to you. If you are harsh with others, others will be harsh with you, and if you judge people inadequate because of unrealistic expectations, those same standards will be applied to you.
However, anyone who says judging is not okay must realize that it is impossible to be passionate and/or bold about something without judging. We can’t be passionate about justice without judging someone guilty, and we can’t fight moral wrongs if we don’t judge the actions as wrong and the people who commit them as misguided, ignorant, or just plain bad. Ultimately, I believe that judging must go hand-in-hand with compassion and consequences. You’ve got to have the compassion to remember everyone is human and make mistakes, but you also have to have the backbone to instill consequences and enforce them.
Thanks John. There’s a little word in your comment that jumps off the page for me, compassion. What a great word in this context.
Judging. Results. Successes.
That’s all good. The focus needs to be around the missions / visions and alignment to the shared objectives.
The judging comes around the issues of congruence, I think. Judging is useful because it is contextual. It is about how well we are “packaging” that combination of behaviors and perceived attitudes. If that judging can also link to coaching and communications, fine well and good.
When the judging is more focused on “perceived attitudes and beliefs” and not on behavior, it can be more problematic.
I’ve always liked the phrase, “We judge ourselves by our intentions; we judge others by their behavior.”
(If that latter part is true, good. But when it is about their attitudes, we run into more subjective perceptual issues.)
Protest about wrongdoing is good. But judging people in Ferguson because of their beliefs lends itself to dissonance and stereotyping, for example.
Thanks Dr. Scott. You’re nailing it. Judging is just expressing personal preferences. It’s about shared goals and alignment on mission and vision. Your insights are helpful. (I think that’s a judgement) 🙂
Good discussion of one of the aspects of leadership development that does not usually receive good attention …
I certainly judged you Dan for not posting a blog yesterday. It threw my whole day out of whack! Just kidding… I was too busy teaching my kids how to jump an ad-hoc ramp on their bikes yesterday to be on social myself.
I’d say I judge myself too much if anything. Usually when I’m judging others, I’m a bit sneaky and do it in the guise of offering to assist with something that appears lacking to me and I feel like I can offer expertise in (or I point them to someone in that arena). And judging someone cold when they barely know you seems to have little to no positive effect; there has to have been some relationship deposits first for judging to have value and context.
Thanks James. You made me laugh. I felt a twinge of guilt when I realized how late it was and I let myself off the hook for a Sunday post!!
The issue of self-judgement is so difficult. After all, how can we be objective with ourselves. I fear being too easy on myself and tend to judge myself harshly. You should have done better.
They say we shouldn’t make it personal. But, I still struggle with this. Looks like you do, too. Best for the journey. I respect your transparency.
Yes, we make judgments every day regarding things we like and don’t like, our individual preferences, the food we eat…. some people don’t like brussel sprouts and I’m one of them! (grins)
However, there IS a difference between judgement and condemnation. (If I understood correctly …and it’s been several years…the biblical use of the word judgement in the N.T. was a greek work meaning condemn. The english translation word was ‘judge’. Judge not lest you be judged actually means…condemn not lest you be condemned. And this is where people misinterpret all of the time in order to justify bad behavior! Don’t JUDGE me! They say.
Well…if a persons behavior is hurtful to others we ARE called to make judgments about it. Has nothing to do with condemnation.
When our hands touch a burner on a hot stove, our brain responds by immediately removing our hand from the hot burner. Our brain isn’t condemning anything….we didn’t condemn anything….we just learned that it hurts to touch a hot stove! So we ‘judge’ that it’s not a good idea to touch burners on the stove! : )
When someone hurts us, it’s the same principle as touching a hot stove. Yet instead of embracing the fact that people are registering an OUCH when another person hurts them, somehow we’ve created rules that try to force people to put those hands on the hot burner.
‘Don’t judge! Don’t remove your hand from the hot burner! Keep it there!’
And I say, just as you are saying in this post that YES…we ARE allowed to make judgements about many things every single day like we already do. It’s precisely how we make decisions and choices each and every day.
It has very little to do with condemnation. Although some actions SHOULD be condemned. And that is what part of our justice system was supposed to help us with. As faulty as it is.
Thanks Samantha. I loved reading how you come at this topic. Much appreciated. The illustration of the hot stove makes me smile. Best for the journey.
What an interesting choice of words. “What is your orientation to challenges, obstacles, or opposition?” But it is all about orientation, isn’t it? I mean, a good leader would not want to turn his/her back on the challenge or obstacle, but depending on the situation might approach it obliquely as opposed to head on. I know this was not what you meant to say, exactly, but the visual came into my head when I read the word. Thanks, Dan.
Thanks Steven. Glad you picked up on this one. I’m convinced that challenges/obstacles aren’t the issue. It’s what we think about them. Thanks for sharing your insights.
“J” – Jealousy (resentment) – is a bad counselor.
Successful judge sounds like divine humor – seems to me to be first in the individual word
to contradict …
If not already in the word judge – judgment – even hidden a negative stale aftertaste. Maybe because judge a person, usually with unpleasant guilt-feelings goes hand in hand.
The idea of transmission / transforming into – i like much more!
We do not learn too much in our society (school – out of habit – school of life) more to look at the error and the good and positive it is easily overlooked! …?
The Positive promote spurs – to direct the focus of targeted exercises.
There are still several effizente learning (Thinking) methods that are promising. We use less! Why?
Maybe it reminds me of childhood, and we will be more than nudged rightly promoted – more the feeling of insecurity experienced by as the security and promotion. I think many feel the same – they feel circumcised (cut of the talents / divine gift) and lose as a result.
I do not like the word judgment somehow, it implies having to feel guilty and handicapped
– or blocked thinking and feel good!
I personally would prefer, you could only promote and focus – attention – rather lay on the positive, which means yet other qualities are not desired or are deficient!
I also know about the quality – to point out errors – yes of course.
To be self-critical is the other side of logic.
Still, I like the idea of challenge and support much better.
Constructive criticism contains opportunities. Go.
I like to be in a divine Flow of joy, creativity and go.
Thank You Dan – for your deciding to be a Go-Giver 🙂 Beate*
*Open mind reflects both side – trained perceptual – maybe more! 🙂
Like this! An excellent mind – focuses (arrow and target) – follows more through a better exercise (resolute / strong-willed) – positive attention.
This is for me like a better, special way of forming / performing / transformation
… goes with motivation, needs und satisfaction!
I think it is very important how you say something, especially if you are judgmental
– to be in a dialogue – would perhaps be the better choice – so to speak at eye level!
Judging falls – probably – no one really easily.
I love this post, and the comments with it are terrific also. Thanks for it!