Judging behavior… or judging motives?

Judging behavior or intention?The word ‘judge’ carries much unfair baggage. We revere good ‘judgment’ which is an essential leadership quality – while we recoil at the word judge. Those who are deficient in the ability to judge are likely to make decisions based on emotions and assumptions, ignore facts and do inadequate due diligence. They may believe their ‘gut’ decisions to be superior, and are often prone to being manipulated. [Ask any great salesperson].


1. to form an opinion through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
2. to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation

Judging behaviors is natural and appropriate. For a leader, it’s the first step toward establishing the gap between expectations and behaviors – and appropriately intervening [providing constructive feedback, clarifying expectations, coaching.]

Emotional intelligence doesn’t mean we make decisions based on emotions. Ideally, it means balancing consideration for the implications for others of our decisions and behaviors, while making rational, fact-based decisions. Interestingly, one of the ‘facts’ to be considered is the implications for the business if we disregard the impact on people. Circular logic at its best?

What creates problems is assuming malicious intent/ motivation based on behaviors we don’t like or don’t understand.

“We judge others by their behavior. We judge ourselves by our intentions”

– Ian Percy

Too often, this leads to actively demonizing an individual based on their behaviors – a tendency which is more responsible for chaos, dysfunction and declining performance than the behaviors that were originally called into question. It’s the antithesis of emotional intelligence. It’s distracting and often destructive.

Those who routinely and vocally judge the intentions and motivations of others are essentially holding up a mirror to their own motivations. …and may be deflecting attention from their own deficiencies. When considering who requires intervention and corrective action – let’s put them at the top of the list.


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 © copyright 2013-2014  Marilou Myrick, The Stage®/ Masters Among Us, Inc. All rights reserved.

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