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Good judgment, the leadership differentiator

“Leaders need many qualities but underlying them all is good judgment.

Those with ambition but no judgment run out of money.

Those with charisma but no judgment lead their followers in the wrong direction.

Those with passion but no judgment hurl themselves down the wrong paths.

Those with drive but no judgment get up very early to do the wrong things.

Sheer luck and factors beyond your control may determine your eventual success, but good judgment will stack the cards in your favor”, wrote Sir Andrew Likierman of the London Business School in the Harvard Business Review, Jan/Feb 2020 issue.

Good judgment comes with experience, exposure, and education. It is good that Sir Andrew, rights point out that “leaders with good judgment tend to be good listeners and readers – able to hear what other people mean, and thus able to see patterns that others do not.

Looking back, I realize there are decisions one may not get right until they are of a certain age. For example, it took me five years after owning my first car to learn to say no to lending someone my car. In the past, someone would request for the car and even when you do not want, you end up giving it out. Only for the car to be returned when it is not in good working order – dirty, dry on fuel, and not serviced. Despite advice by others that “never lend your car to friends”, I continued to give it out only to be disappointed.

The pattern became clear.

Few people, if any, repair a car they do not own. Once they get the car, they focus on the journey, not on the condition of the vehicle since it will not be around to inconvenience them.

They say only fools do not learn from experiences. In this world of man as a social animal, the tendency to help as a way of deepening friendships is high. But not everyone looks at it that way. At the end of the event, you are annoyed at the condition of the car. The person who used it recklessly and at yourself for having been duped. The result is losing a friend.

Good judgment would help you study the context (the behavior of the person asking for your car, and their general professionalism and integrity), advise from other people, and decide to give or not. My experience is not to not lend out the car. Just contribute someone to your friend to go and hire a car from a professional car rental company. That way you keep your friend and your car!

Great leaders have good judgment. That is why some jobs have stated minimum years of experience to occupy them. That is the only assurance of your good judgment.

Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.

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