Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

What Does Sound Judgment Have to Do With Decision-Making?

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Managers wishing to build trust and rapport with their employees need to establish sound decision making skills that consistently produce fair and ethical judgments and evaluations.

Managers who consistently make fair and sound decisions and judgments will see their effectiveness and credibility increase. Individual employees and customers will learn that they can rely on the manager to make a fair judgment and evaluation despite the fact that it may not be easy or popular.

When subordinates know they can rely on the equity of their manager’s judgments, trust is strengthened. The personal and professional reputation of the manager thus enhanced, employees will rely on their judgment and be eager to work more closely with them.
Managers must exercise sound judgment in all of their decisions. Effective decision-making plays an important role in the development of good judgment skills. Initially, managers may need to deliberately go though a checklist of key points until they become second nature.

Related: The Importance of Intellectual Honesty

Developing good judgment is based upon the manager’s ability to look at all sides of a problem or issue and to weigh all of the options before a final determination is made. Typically good judgments are:


Facts form the basis of all sound judgments. While perhaps self-evident, it is all too easy to base judgments upon opinions, assumptions and personal biases.

Before a judgment can be made, managers must take the time to firmly establish the truth of the matter and filter out any opinions, assumptions and biases. When at all possible, facts should be fully documented.


Sound judgment is based upon an objective evaluation of the facts. Managers must be careful to ensure their emotions, assumptions, expectations, opinions and personal biases do not affect their objectivity. Where possible, managers should step outside of the immediate situation to view the facts from the other person’s perspective and gain objective insights into potential solutions.

Related: The Need to Test Opinions Against the Facts

Fair and Balanced

Sound judgment requires that all sides and viewpoints be carefully weighed and considered by managers. One pitfall in sound decision making lies in only considering one side of the issue and thereby limiting objectivity with opinions, assumptions or personal biases. When this occurs, the decision is intentionally slanted toward one side of the issue without fully considering other viewpoints and insights.

When managers are focusing on making ethical judgments, they must consider all sides of the issue and make sure the input they are considering is balanced. When balanced facts and viewpoints are objectively evaluated, the manager is able to arrive at a fair judgment.

Related: Eight Ways Others Evaluate Trust in Leaders

Made When Managers Are Emotionally Stable

Managers must refrain from making determinations and judgments in an emotionally unsettled state of mind. Decisions made when a manager is angry or hostile will be rash and subjective. Before effective and sound judgments can be made, managers must assure that their emotions are in check.

Addressing the Needs of All Parties

Sound judgments and decisions encompass the needs of all individuals involved with and affected by them. The final judgment should be in the best interests of all parties. Even when tough decisions are to be made, the best interests of all involved must be considered. For instance, if a manager must let an employee go due to poor performance, that decision – when based on facts – may be in his or her best interest. The individual may need a wake-up call or just may not have the necessary skills to be successful in their job, in which case it is best they pursue another profession.

Related: Have You Earned Permission to Lead?

Carefully Considering All Options

Sound judgments demand that managers consider all possible options. When a problem or issue is first considered, only one viable option may be apparent; however, effective managers will explore and consider all possible options before a decision is to be made.

Once managers have collected all the facts, viewpoints, insights and options, they need to take the time to thoroughly consider all aspects of the problem or issue before a final judgment is made.

Fully Assessing Risks

Effective managers fully assess all the risks associated with their decisions and judgments. They are not risk-averse, but instead weigh all facts and make their decisions based upon the judgment yielding the lowest risk and biggest payoff.

Excerpt: Ethics and Integrity: Pinpoint Management Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreward Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

August 16, 2012 at 10:23 am

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