‘Not to Judge’ – a difficult leadership lesson

We come across several situations in our lives – both personal and professional – when we tend to judge others’ actions as ‘right or wrong’, ‘acceptable or unacceptable’, ‘wise or not so wise’…….

Let’s take an example: Say, a good assignment providing strong exposure and bright prospects for accelerated career growth has come up. Employees may respond in different ways:

  • Person A – open to shift wherever required or do whatever needed to take up the opportunity
  • Person B – is willing to take it up only and only if it is in the same town
  • Person C – decides to give it a pass as it is too much of stretch, he would prefer to maintain a decent work-life balance
  • Person D – is keen to take it up, but only after 6 months once his son returns to college

There could be many more choices! The list may go on on… depending on the personal and professional context of the person.

We tend to judge people’s action as right or wrong or label them. For example, we might end up calling Person A as ambitious and Person C as. laid back!

I often ponder: Do we really have the right to judge, decide who is right or not right?

  • First, it’s the choice of the individual:  what he or she wants from personal / professional life.  And will ultimately barely the consequences of those actions: some in the short-term, some in the medium and long term, few anticipated and few others unanticipated.
  • Second, we invariably judge others from our lens. And our lens is colored by our own context, background, life philosophy, dreams, and aspirations and so many other things…

People are different and they make different choices. The biggest lesson for leader is not to judge the choice of others – as right or wrong!

Of course, I am not talking of immoral or illegal actions, while even these can be controversial, as moral codes and laws change over years. For Britishers in pre-independence era, Bhagat Singh was a terrorist and for Indians, he was and is a spirited freedom fighter, a martyr.

For me personally, holding back judgement has been an arduous journey with the destination still quite far!

What about you?

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