Business Owners Must Exercise Good Judgment Every Day

Good news… as the leader, you get to use your judgment. The buck stops with you and you get to decide.

Webster’s defines judgment as the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.

Get the facts

An accurate review of the facts followed by a swift and accurate decision is always the goal. That is sometimes easier said than done. You won’t always be swift and you won’t always be right. In the heat of the moment it is often difficult to stop, reflect and give any issue the due diligence that is appropriate. It is sometimes difficult to do this before you make the call.

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” – Will Rogers

Little decisions, Big decisions

An entrepreneur’s day is chocked full of decisions. Many decisions are mundane. What type of toilet paper to buy or should we get blue or black pens, or both? Other decisions are obviously more important and will directly affect your operation in a much bigger way.

Judgement calls in the Marine Corps are often a matter of life or death. On main street USA, in your operation, those types of decisions are very rare. Not non existent, but rare. However, you will be called upon to make very important decisions.

Should we close early due to an impending blizzard? Should I hire an additional warehouse worker to offload some stress on my warehouse manager? Do I need to invest in LEHD lighting for my warehouse? Does our web site need to be updated? Is that $25 thousand dollar piece of capital equipment going to save us money or help us make? Should I lay these 2 employees off or cut salaries due to a downturn in sales?

These decisions require judgement. They are important decisions as they effect peoples lives. A leader must collect the facts available weigh the options and make the best judgment that he can based on what he knows. Any business valuation tools are a necessity to make an informed decision for any business.

As the leader in your business, you will not always be right, but you are always responsible.

Do what you believe is right

As a leader, you have to do what you believe is right. Judgment should reflect your morals, ethics, and values. Run everything through that filter and you will always find yourself in a position to make a decision that you can stand behind.

Set the example, Empower others

Be known as a leader who is decisive. No one wants to follow a wishy-washy leader. I would rather follow someone who can collect the facts and make a choice, even if we have to change course down the road, than someone who can’t find his butt with both hands. Be a leader that makes decisions. It earns the confidence of your team.

Set the example, then empower your team to make decisions. Train them to think as you think, then give them some autonomy over a few smaller things. As they prove themselves, give them more authority to make bigger and bigger decisions. This is how you grow leaders in your organization.

Get input, Build consensus

Some decisions might be better made with the consensus of your team. On some issues, their input is valuable and even preferred. Bring key players in on decisions that affect them. Get their input, but remember that you are still ultimately responsible.

As a business owner, I did not take every decision to my team for their opinion or buy-in. There were times, however, when getting my warehouse supervisor involved in an issue that had a direct impact on him and the team that reported to him.

For example, I wanted to rearrange the warehouse to accommodate our growing equipment resale business. This involved moving work stations, moving shelving and generally disrupting the flow of everything in the warehouse. I even had to hire a professional warehouse cleaning company to clean it before everything got moved around. This was a decision that needed to be made with input from the ones who actually worked in the warehouse every day.

I called my warehouse manager into the conference room and we invested an hour going over all of the options. He gave me valuable input and I made a decision based on all of the information available. I was happy, he was happy and the warehouse team was happy. It was vital that the warehouse was improved as there was a need for more storage space. However, it was beneficial to get the opinions of those who operate the warehouse. One of them even suggested that once the shelves had been improved, there might be a need for a rolling ladder. These ladders can be found on websites like and they can be useful for warehouses to have on-site, especially if they have high shelves! This was an example of useful feedback from an employee, which shows why it’s important to discuss any big decisions with people who will be impacted by any changes.

Freedom to fail

You will never be right 100% of the time. That’s ok. Some of the best learning I ever did was as a result of bad judgment. Some of those mistakes can be costly and painful, but I learned from every one of them.

Collect the facts, compare your options, seek input if appropriate, run it through your ethics filter, they make the call!

Judgment is one of the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits.

Have you had to make a judgment call this week? Hit the comment box in the grey above or below this article and tell us about it. Your experience will empower your fellow entrepreneurs.