Beware the Judge

I have sometimes shamefully sat and judged others for their weaknesses, foibles and mistakes.

Rather than looking at the issue, or the action/decision a person may have taken, I have unleashed a vitriol of judgement on that person for doing that particular ‘thing’.

Even if the judgement takes place in my head, it still takes place. 

And if I’m truly honest, I have on occasion believed I would have handled their ‘mistake’ much better than they did.

As leaders, the further up the organisational pyramid we go, the more we are judged.

And unfortunately, the higher we climb, the more we tend to wear this judgement hat.

Recently I found myself doing the very thing I had judged others harshly for in a professional environment.

I came to the squeamish realisation that when faced with a certain tricky situation, it was not as ‘black and white’ as I had previously thought.

Suddenly I had compassion for those I had previously judged and condemned so viciously who had faced the same thing.

And it hit me.

Experience is the bridge from judgement to compassion.

Learning to become a good leader (or person for that matter) is an ongoing journey. One with big mountains to climb, deserts to cross and deep valleys to navigate.

We all stumble and fall.

The Native American proverb…

Grant That I May Not Criticize My Neighbour
Until I Have Walked A Mile In His Moccasins

…is so poignant for leaders.

So the next time your judge –

– comes out in full force,  suspend its harsh verdict for a moment and instead remember this.

Seek to understand. Judgement has its day. It has its time and place. But too often The Judge is an overused card that is played. And played too soon. Compassion, on the other hand is a card rarely played. Sometimes not at all. 

You will not always have experience on your side, but seeking to understand first, will always be accessible to you as a leader.

See here for more on the role compassion plays in effective leadership and here for an exceptional blog on this topic.

Do you, at times find your inner judge taking centre stage?
When is judgement a good tool to use in leadership?

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  1. […] As a leader always seek first to understand. For more on the topic see here. […]

  2. […] Curiosity expands our minds. Cultivates creativity. Increases knowledge and wisdom. Is the opposite of judgement. […]

  3. Martin Byrne on April 17, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Hi Suzi,
    An excellent read which I have shared with the wider Leadership team who know you well. Keep these coming – a great source of advice and very thought proviking.


  4. The Leader's Digest on April 17, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Thanks for the feedback Martin and for sharing with your team. Suzi

  5. mk on April 15, 2014 at 11:19 am

    You are absolutely right we are too quick to judge other people . I think everyone do this and the best way is to accept it because once we know what we do only than we can control it .

    Yes at times I can feel my inner judge taking control . Too be very honest I feel really sorry for the mistakes I made . We need to be rational and give others the chance and time to prove themselves and to show their skills .
    Treat others the way you want to be treated i.e. treat fairly . I try to remind myself this everytime i am ready to judge other person .

    • The Leader's Digest on April 15, 2014 at 10:53 pm

      Great point – sometimes we can be all too quick to jump to conclusions. Slowing down and giving people the time (and freedom) to express their abilities is hugely important. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Cafe Coach on April 15, 2014 at 1:38 am

    Hi Suzie, your blogs are going from strength to strength. It must be very satisfying to be turning out such great material. Well done.

    A book you might be interested in if you haven’t already come across it is Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I think it would have some useful material for you. Her Ted talk is good too.

    Best regards, Bruce.

    • The Leader's Digest on April 15, 2014 at 11:17 pm

      Thanks very much for your kind words Bruce, it made my day! Ah, yes, the wonderful Brene Brown. I love her work and have that book. Vulnerability and leadership – now that’s a juicy topic. Finally, thanks for sharing.

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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