The Importance of Good Judgement - Values, Leaders & the MBTI Assessment
So many things in life rely on good judgment. We often find ourselves in situations where there are no right or wrong answers. Our final decision comes down to a matter of judgment. There are lots of examples of good judgement (and bad judgement) in current affairs right now, and it’s more complicated than just asking if someone has broken a law.
We need confidence that the people we choose to represent us are going to exhibit good judgment across a whole range of important decisions. Sound judgment is essential, and is perhaps one of the most crucial assets required of a leader. So the question is, do all leaders have the potential to exercise good judgment?
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s easy to say that a leader did or didn’t exercise good judgment. Just look at the Iraq war and what we have learned in retrospect. However, in the case of political leaders, we as voters need to be able to predict ... in advance... which candidate has the greatest potential to exercise good judgment when leadership decisions need to be made under pressure.
To be able to predict, we first need to understand what influences our leaders’ decisions. One of the key drivers in making decisions and exercising good judgment is an individual’s own set of values, that being a set of deeply held beliefs about what is good, right and appropriate. These values are deep-seated and remain constant over time, guiding us in our daily actions.
Our values develop based on many influences such as culture, parental guidance, societal expectations and individual differences. One of the individual differences that seems to impact what values we adhere to is our personality preference. MBTI Type preference serves as a mental filter. Due to the vast amount of stimuli in the environment, we cannot take in and process all information equally. Therefore our type preference can influence the values we develop. This happens when we consciously or unconsciously pay attention to judge or hold in higher regard certain behaviors, attitudes or characteristics exhibited by others. Over time, these natural biases can develop into deeply held beliefs or values.
Values tend to lie underneath and ultimately steer our agendas, and everyone has various subsets of values. When it comes to leadership and good judgment, we can look at two subsets of values: those that guide someone towards acting to pursue their own individual interest, and those that guide someone more towards pursuing collective interest.
Values linked to pursuing individual interests:
- Behaviors linked to promoting one’s own personal interests include things such as the pursuit of personal success, achieving dominance over others, and seeking personal gratification.
- Myth: Pursuing individual interests means you are a cunning and amoral opportunist
Values linked to pursuing collective interests:
- Behaviors linked to pursuing collective interest, on the other hand, include helpfulness, teamwork and altruism (relating to the treatment of immediate others) and the pursuit of justice and equality (relating to the treatment of all).
- Myth: Pursuing collective interests means you are completely altruistically motivated
Some people may consider there to be an either/or distinction between these two subsets of values: you either focus on achieving personal success, or else you re-direct your energies, shifting towards working for the benefit of others. However, it’s not as straightforward as this.
If we treat pursuing individual interests and pursuing collective interests as separate dimensions rather than as a continuum, we can reflect on the benefits of each. Each value can guide the individual towards worthwhile actions, either directly or indirectly. While it’s possible for a leader to hold both sets of values, it is unfortunately more common to see someone who holds just one of these strongly.
So, when asking the question about leaders and their potential to make good judgments, we must remember that an authentic leader will be someone who is able to successfully balance a pursued individual and collective interest. Any kind of misalignment will lead to a reduced ability to get things done. For example, someone who is too focused on his own agenda may risk alienating coworkers whose cooperation is key to helping the person reach their objectives. On the other hand, always putting the needs of others first may lead to a risk of the leader spreading themselves too thinly.
Wherever the balance may be found, there is one last critical aspect of a leader that influences their ability to implement their vision. We’ll call this professional will. Professional will is basically the drive and determination get things done. Professional will acts as a catalyst, and without it a person will never be able to realize their full potential. The leaders of nearly all political parties recognize the importance of demonstrating this to the voters, just as accomplished leaders recognize the importance of demonstrating the same drive to their employees.
So back to the question of how we can predict who will have the potential to exercise good judgment. Aside from seeing leaders demonstrate the obvious things, such as possession of a high level of reasoning ability and subject-matter knowledge, the importance of demonstrating a clear set of balanced individual and collective values as well as possessing sufficient professional will should not be underestimated. An assessment of an individual in terms of all these factors will go a long way towards helping us predict how they are likely to perform when in a position of responsibility.
Want to learn more about the most important values for each MBTI type? Read the blogs here.
Curious about the best assessment to measure leadership traits and professional drive? Check out the CPI 260® assessment here.