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Judiciously Seeking: REAL Leadership!

One lesson my parents taught me when I was a little girl was to always think before speaking. I was afforded the opportunity to speak my mind and it was encouraged by my parents. Often, I would get caught up in excitement, or anger, or whatever the emotion was and my father would caution, … “OK now, watch what you say next.” As a young girl, I was given the freedom to express myself, but I was also taught to never be rude, never be disrespectable, and if someone else had something to say, be courteous and give them a chance to talk as well. Now, I truly understand the times we are living in and how our culture has rapidly changed from when I was a young girl, however, civility and respect are always in order.

When thinking of a leader, we desire someone who is a forward thinker; some who is in tune with industry changes, abreast on what the competition is doing and what the company should do to be competitive and of course generate revenue. We elect political leaders who share our concerns and who use their influence and power to affect the kind of change that will protect us and strengthen our economy. We look for leaders who have our best interest at heart. We want our leaders to operate judiciously and to be wise. We want leaders who are prudent and know they must think before they speak, always contemplating the outcome of their message and their methods.

The Issue

A 2016 McKinsey & Company study revealed that 62% of workers surveyed (over past 18 months, thousands were polled, but no specific number disclosed) admitted they were treated rudely by colleagues at least once a month.[1] This is an ever-rising problem that is growing out of control in all industries and institutions around the globe. When did incivility become an acceptable behavior? I’ve said this before and I will continue to say that most of the workplace behavior is exhibited by leadership and followers tend to mimic the behavior they see and/or experience. When workers are disrespected, they feel insignificant, depressed, undervalued, and as a result, they underperform. This becomes an even greater issue for the overall organization. Incivility kills morale, foster deviant actions, and becomes the assumed norm of the corporate culture.

The Big Bad Bully

The health of an organization is determined by leadership. A bullying boss is not a respected leader. High turnover is often because of the incivility that’s rampant in the organization. The leader has difficulty conveying a message about vision and values when those needed to catch the vision instead catches hell. The message is confusing and people become suspicious and distrustful especially when behavior does not align with values. Can a disrespectful leader be trusted to make good decisions? Many followers struggle with this question. Here are some traits found in leaders who are not judicious and also listed are perceived assumptions about these leaders. They are:

  1. Not leading by example

  2. Deceitful

  3. Selfish/self-centered

  4. Incompetent (perceived)

  5. Lacking self-control

  6. Uncaring/unkind

  7. Corrupt & evil (assumed)

  8. Unethical

  9. Lassiez-fare – passive; no regard for the organization or their followers

  10. Toxic

Of course, this list can go on, but the point is when leaders fail to convey a message that aligns with the competencies and characteristics expected of them, the end result can be detrimental to them, the organization, and the follower. Leaders must be accountable for their actions.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

One trait of a good effective leader is having the ability to balance emotions. A judicious leader will consider the consequences to their actions and how their behavior might impact their employees or those who follow them for leadership. They are efficacious because they choose to control their own emotions and how they influence emotions in others. Leaders are expected to integrate good cognition with balanced emotions. EQ is the ability to employ appropriate emotional responses after the assessment of conditions that may trigger an emotion. EQ is an awareness of the power of emotions and knowing how and when to use it and encourage others how and when to use their emotions. For example, when a leader has a project that needs to be completed by a specified deadline, the leader will know how to tap into the emotion that stimulates creativity, and innovation. Emotionally intelligent leaders know how to match the appropriate emotion to generate the right mood that contributes to problem-solving.[2]

In the United States, we have witnessed political leaders who lack emotional intelligence and unjust, unethical repercussions have followed and are still unfolding. When bantering between parties is heightened by the “eye for an eye” mindset, then leaders are no better than the very deplorable situation they loathe. Unfortunately, followers imitate their leaders, especially charismatic leaders they admire even when they behave despicably. When leaders, political, clergy, corporate, or others, shift from addressing issues to attacking people, the truth of their character is revealed, however, although some have lost respect, many followers applaud this uncivil manner and are mimicking it. This is when it becomes a dangerous threat to our society as we move further away from obeying laws and instead choose to do what’s “right in our own eyes” and relying on reactionary emotions to dictate how we should behave. Dr. Jim Denison asked this question, “is this a civil war?”[3] This question is applicable to any leader who chooses not to use discretion and is a contributor to the escalation of an already hostile situation.


Nothing can be made “great again” until we choose to be great from within. When we don’t renew our minds, or course correct, we become prey to the replay. What does this mean? It means repeating the offensive conduct that instead of provoking change, it just provokes more of the same. Evil begets evil and victims remain prey.

Great Leaders know the art of self- discipline & discretion. The ability to resist temptation and to exercise self-control and restraint, are critical components of self-leadership that contributes to high EQ. Deception seizes reactionary leaders. They become victimized by their own hype and are convinced that doing wrong wins justice. These leaders are blinded by self-righteous acts.

CTA – Call to Action

We are desperately in need of judicious leadership. It begins with us. In the book of Proverbs 4:23 it says “guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (NLT). This is a powerful word of advice. Not only are we leaders, but we are followers and we have a responsibility for what we allow to reside in our heart. We must guard against the information we consume even if it’s factual. Information serves a purpose and how it’s delivered is designed to generate a reaction. Leaders know the difference between being reactionary versus being responsive. Leaders also know that we must protect the good within by paying attention to your environment. Surround yourself with positive people who have great energy and who are offering solutions that add value to others and not destructive behavior that tear down and belittles people.

Corporately, collectively, as a whole, we have a social responsibility to respect, protect, support, and take care of each other. Let’s treat others as we desire to be treated. This is a Corporate Social Responsibility #CSR imperative. #allpeoplematter


[1] Porath, C., (2016). Cycle to Civility. Georgetown University working paper.

[2] Hackman, M. Z., & Johnson, C. E. (2013). Leadership: A communication perspective. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

[3] Denison, J. (June 26,2018). Political hostility escalates: "Is America headed toward a civil war?", The Daily Article.

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