5 Ways Judgmental Leaders Move Forward by Withholding Judgement

Enter every interaction as a learner, even when you plan to teach. One difference between confidence and arrogance is an open mind. 

Bring what you know, after exploring what you don’t. 


The only hope for know-it-alls is to become learn-it-alls. 

4 marks of know-it-all leaders:

  1. Impatient with ‘ignorant’ people. Successful leaders are impatient concerning results, and forbearing with people who aspire to grow.
  2. Quick judgements. Withholding judgement assumes there’s more to know.
  3. Leading questions. Know-it-alls can’t ask open ended questions. When was the last time you asked, “What do you think?” and listened deeply to the response?

  4. Passion for growth in others, not in themselves. There’s no room for personal growth when you already know.

Many of us have an astonishing capacity to know, even when we don’t. Congratulations if you’ve come to the place that you know you don’t know. Here are five suggestions for those of use who wrestle with knowing too much.

5 ways judgmental leaders withhold judgement:

The only way to innovate – at least at the beginning – is to withhold judgement.

  1. Develop several options before making choices. Learn-it-alls know there are many answers to most challenges. The magic number is four. Know-it-alls think there’s one answer.
  2. Stay curious even when you think you know. Stagnant leaders are habitual knowers, rather than curious learners.
  3. Gag your inner judge.
    • Notice quick judgments.
    • Take a breath.
    • Lean back.
    • Say, “Tell me more.”
    • Stop talking. Know-it-alls talk too much.
  4. Say ‘and’. Avoid ‘but’.
  5. Go ‘with’ before going ‘against’. Explore and explain how someone else’s approach might work.

Learn-it-all leaders listen, connect, adapt, and innovate. But feeling superior causes frustration, isolation, manipulation, and stagnation.

How might leaders deal with tendencies to judge quickly?

When is judging quickly a good thing? A bad thing?