TO THE EXTENT THAT IT ACHIEVES THE ESPOUSED GOALS OF THE ORGANISATION, THE LEADERSHIP JUDGEMENT COULD BE DECLARED AS A FAILURE OR SUCCESS. THE ULTIMATE TEST OF LEADERSHIP JUDGEMENT IS SOUND PERFORMANCE.
Leader’s cannot get out of making judgements. Good leadership judgements are rewarded with long-term success. By sorting the important from the trivial, managing relationships with key constituencies and aligning and mobilizing team members for support, they get to make important judgement calls right.
Making judgement calls, the essential job of a leader is the core of effective leadership. It boasts of a contextually informed decision-making process that breaks into the domain of people, strategy and crisis. The three-phase process of leadership judgement in each sphere are the preparation, the call and the execution. A contextual knowledge of one’s self, social network, organisation and stakeholders, prepares leaders to make good leadership judgements. As CEO of AT&T, Michael Armstrong floundered with the company and couldn’t manoeuvre it out of the hindrances of his poor strategic judgements, thus ending his career on an unenviable note. Likewise in Hewlett–Packard, the failure of Carly Fiorina to find harmony with the informal, nonhierarchical corporate culture at HP and the poor execution of the strategic judgement connected with the acquisition of Compaq led to her downfall. A different scenario opened up at Procter & Gamble (P&G) when A. G. Lafley took over as CEO of the company. Lafley’s big acquisition of Gillette proved to be a much savvier and profitable business move. Jeff Immelt succeeded Jack Welch at General Electric (GE) and took bold steps to reinvent the company. He moved GE from their primary business model to opportunities presented by emerging markets and emerging technologies, and secured to his strategic judgements adequate rewards.
Throughout our lives, we make judgement calls; some are trivial while others are monumental like the ones connected to our careers and spouses. The sum total of all our judgement calls defines the level of our success in life. Occupying positions of leadership magnify exponentially the importance and consequences of our judgment calls. A leader’s judgement impacts the lives of others. The cumulative effect of leaders’ judgement calls either wafts the organisation into success or failure. Under great time constraints or pressure and faced with ambiguity, uncertainty and conflicting demands, leaders must start out to make important decisions and see to their thorough execution, in order to add value to their organisation and ensure its survival. Leadership can be summarised as a chronicle of judgement calls. To the extent that it achieves the espoused goals of the organisation, the leadership judgement could be declared as a failure or success. The ultimate test of leadership judgement is sound performance. What would have happened if Ray Gilmartin of Merck had recalled Vioxx much earlier than he did, in view of mounting evidence indicating that the drug might be risky to cardiac patients? Maybe Merck wouldn’t have faced thousands of lawsuits.