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Judgment Calls By Mark L. Vincent

 Judgment Calls: dealing with organizational leadership scenarios

Judgment calls are judgment calls. They aren’t exact. They aren’t easy. They don’t guarantee a successful outcome.

What the leader can know is that to do nothing is also a judgment call. That is, the failure to exercise judgment is still a choice of what to do with one’s judgment.

What the leader can learn is that it is better to follow through with judgment and action based on what they know, alongside helpful perspective from people who truly care about them, than it is to abdicate or hide or be paralyzed by fear.

What are the scenarios you’ve faced in recent weeks? How did it go for you in exercising judgment?

In recent weeks I’ve faced the following scenarios. They were rife with judgment calls. History will judge whether I did well.

  • Deciding what clients to say “yes” to; harder still, which ones got a “no.”
  • How to respond to the pinch of colleagues who want me to agree with them and are not yet in agreement with each other.
  • Helping colleagues on projects that are not going well. How to encourage them to do better without disempowering them, or preventing them from learning, even if learning via failure?
  • Postponing a project that we really want to do, but for which financing would be risky at this time.

Other leaders must manage far bigger potatoes than I. Other leaders have far more naysayers and angry voices around them than I have ever had to face. Imagine being a presidential candidate, a professional baseball team manager, an airline executive, or a planning commission chair in your local township, and having to exercise judgment in public view. Or imagine being God, and having everyone blaming or praising based on their perception of your divine judgment.

Actually, writing this during a compelling World Series, it strikes me that baseball managers and God have a lot in common. Everyone second-guesses them. So many fans care about the specific game they attend without respect for what it takes to manage for the entire season, just as many people speak to God only about their specific circumstance of the moment, without respect for their lifetime or for the welfare of future generations and the Creation in which they live.

Making judgment calls is to get out of the bleachers with the brew and cracker jacks. It also means getting off the bench and the steps of the dugout, ready to react and manage within the intricacies of the game. No call is going to be liked by everyone. One will get their nose rubbed into even the most successful decision. It goes with the territory of being privileged to exercise judgment on behalf of the Owner of the team.

Perhaps this is another way baseball managers, steward leaders and God relate.


 Mark L. Vincent is the CEO of Design Group International. He also serves as a CLA Leader2Leader facilitator and is actively involved as a subject matter expert and faculty for the CLA Outcomes Academy.


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