Try to be Judicious
“Leaders are always alert towards fairness”
Opening Case Study :
Henry Ford –AJudicious Leader
Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was the American founder of the Ford Motor Company and father of modern assembly lines used in mass production. His introduction of the Model T automobile revolutionized transportation and American industry. He was a proliﬁc inventor and was awarded 161 U.S. patents. As owner of the Ford Motor Company he became one of the richest and best-known leader in the world. He is credited with “Fordism”, that is, the mass production of large numbers of inexpensive automobiles using the assembly line, coupled with high wages for his workers.
Ford had a global vision, with consumerism as the key to peace. Ford did not believe in accountants; he amassed one of the world’s largest fortunes without ever having his company audited under his administration. Henry Ford’s intense commitment to lowering costs resulted in many technical and business innovations, including a franchise system that put a dealership in every city in North America, and in major cities on six continents. Ford left most of his vast wealth to the Ford Foundation but arranged for his family to control the company permanently.
There are many values visible in the life of Henry Ford that enabled him to be a highly successful business leader. However, it seems that his judgement regarding value of employees, belief in equality and emotional intelligence truly set him apart from others. Henry Ford’s leadership quality of sound judgement enabled him to change the trajectory of workplace practices.
Ford set a terriﬁc example for valuing human capital. Though it was a shock to Wall Street, he increased worker’s wages to ﬁve dollars a day and instituted an eight-hour workday. He recognized that increasing wages and offering reasonable hours would serve to retain and motivate employees. “Because Ford had lowered his costs per car, the high wages didn’t matter – except for making it feasible for more people to buy cars”. Henry Ford even said “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible”.
Henry Ford’s business decisions in the realm of diversity were a catalyst for the growth of equality in the workplace. He offered employment to women, African Americans, and disabled individuals long before most other businesses did so. In 1916, Ford employed individuals representing 62 different nationalities. At that time, the company also employed over 900 people with disabilities. Through the years, Ford went on to set standards of non-discrimination and equalize opportunities in many ways.
Before the term emotionally intelligent was even coined, Henry Ford appeared to embody this quality. His ability to understand that saving clients money made them feel more valued was a sure sign of emotional intelligence. He was sensitive to economic needs and took action to respond to customers in ways that showed he cared. Similarly, he was in-tune with the ﬁnancial and work life balance needs of employees. Because he hoped to show appreciation and understanding toward them, he implemented positive wage and shift changes. Ford even said “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle, as well as your own.”
Like many leaders, Henry Ford broke away from standards. He was the ﬁsh that ventured away from its school and tried something different. He was also keenly in touch with people’s needs, which enabled him to know how to help them and in turn run a successful business.
The judicious leader displays maturity and thoughtfulness in decision making. Judicious maturity of judgment is highly signiﬁcant for professionals making judgments in contexts of risk and uncertainty.One of the most difﬁcult but necessary skills we need to develop as leaders is learning how to be judicious without being judgmental. As a preliminary step to developing that skill, it’s good to reﬂect on the difference between the two.
Being judgmental is basically an effort to get rid of something we don’t understand and probably don’t want to understand. We see something we don’t like and we try to dismiss it, to stamp it out without taking the time to understand it. we’re impatient. Whatever we’re being judgmental about, we just want to get rid of it quickly.
Being judicious, however, requires patience together with understanding. A judicious choice is one you’ve made after understanding all the options, all the sides of a question. That way your choice is based on knowledge, not on greed, aversion, or delusion.
A leader’s most important role in any organization is making good judgments—well-informed, wise decisions that produce the desired outcomes. When a leader shows consistently good judgment, little else matters. When he or she shows poor judgment, nothing else matters. Of course, it isn’t humanly possible to make the right call every single time. But the most effective leaders make a high percentage of successful judgment calls, at the times when it counts the most.
Over the course of our lives, each one of us makes thousands of judgment calls. Some are trivial, such as what kind of cereal to buy; some are monumental, such as whom to marry. Our ability to make the right calls has an obvious impact on the quality of our own lives; for leaders, the signiﬁcance and consequences of judgment calls are magniﬁed exponentially, because they inﬂuence the lives and livelihoods of others. In the end, it is a leader’s judgment that determines an organization’s success or failure. On a more personal level, it is the sum of a leader’s judgment calls that will deliver the verdict on his or her career—and life.
As a leader, we just have to learn to make better judgments and ﬁlter them with experience and wisdom and then use that to make smarter and more thoughtful decisions. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Conduct decisions with an air of wonder. Ask yourself, “Do I have all the facts I’d like to have?” “Am I missing anything?”.Are there unconscious biases creeping in? Ask: “Have I thought of everything else?” and go back and reconsider.
- Ask others for their opinions on what they would do if they were you. Make sure you are not insular—don’t think you always know better. Don’t be afraid of asking for help if you don’t know the answer and you have time. This doesn’t mean you will not make the decision, but gathering more input is often helpful. And the real mastery when is everyone else thinks they made the decision, but you did!
- Determine if this is a decision that you have to make. If someone else can do it, that’s good; it’s an opportunity for them to hone their judgment. As a leader, you should always be working to enable that.
- Understand the time constraints of the decision and proactively decide whether to make a decision or not. Does the situation require an answer now? If so, make it. Too many people delay making decisions, but that is, in essence, making a decision.
- Learn how to keep honing your judgment so you keep getting better. If you make the wrong decision, learn from it. Judgment gets better with age, experience, practice and an open mind.
We all must realize that we are all judging everyone, every day. Do your best to have pure and transparent motives, which will help you make fair and better judgments and clear and correct decisions.
Thus, a wise leader embraces the value of judiciousness and avoids the pitfalls that lead to becoming judgmental. As a leader, you can develop good judgement as you do the muscles of your body – by judicious, daily exercise.