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Coaching Leadership

Passing Judgement

It’s easy for leaders to fall into the trap of rating others and imposing their standards on others. What starts with some helpful ‘opinions’ usually morphs into targeted judgment. Don’t believe me? Well, have you ever expressed approval or disapproval about something or someone?

If the answer’s yes, that’s judgment, my friend. It’s much different from expressing one’s stance or clarifying the context for the team.

The major challenge with judgment in the leadership context is that it prevents people (your team members) from feeling like they have control over their own decisions, which is one of the foundational aspects of developing empowered leaders.

Now, this is where most leaders would disagree with me. The argument is they need to observe people and situations to express themselves better and make better decisions. And, of course, that’s critical! The challenge is that we don’t naturally separate observations from assumptions and judgments.

That’s because there’s a thin line between judgment and observations, and most people don’t even notice it. Understand that when we observe, there’s no right or wrong or good or bad. It is what you see as a reflection in the mirror.

Judgment, on the other hand, brings emotion into the equation. It’s like projecting our feelings on whatever or whoever we’re observing and make a decision based on this new set of information. As you can tell, that isn’t remarkably accurate or scientific.

You can’t afford to be not clear about your judgments and your observations. Knowing which helps you communicate, make decisions, coach, provide feedback, and develop others a whole lot more effectively than otherwise.