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Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls

11/6/2007 --

Noel Tichy's new book examines how to recognize the critical moment before a judgment call, when swift and decisive action is essential, and how to execute a decision after the call.

Watch Noel Tichy on CNBC's Squawk Box

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Judgment is the essence of leadership. Whether it's CEOs, politicians, coaches or generals, the quality of a leader's judgment determines the fate of an entire organization.

A new book, "Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls," by Noel Tichy of Michigan's Ross School of Business and Warren Bennis of the University of Southern California shows how to recognize the critical moment before a judgment call, when swift and decisive action is essential, and how to execute a decision after the call.

"Over the course of our lives, each one of us makes thousands of judgment calls," says Tichy, professor of management and organizations at the Ross School. "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, a leader's judgment can make or break the organization. The best leaders make a high percentage of good calls¿whom to hire, what strategy to implement, how to handle a crisis¿at times when it counts the most."

Tichy and Bennis, both of whom have spent decades studying and teaching leadership and advising top CEOs such as Jack Welch of General Electric and Starbuck's Howard Schultz, offer a powerful framework for making tough calls when the stakes are high and the right path is far from obvious. Their book is based on extensive research with key leaders, including A.G. Lafley of Procter & Gamble, GE's Jeff Immelt, Jim McNerney of Boeing, David Novak of Yum Brands and Joel Klein of the New York City Schools.

Although the authors believe that good judgment is hard to pin down, they contend that it's really a three-part process: 1) Preparing: Framing the issue that will demand a judgment call, ensuring that your team members understand why the decision is important, and tapping ideas from stakeholders; 2) Making the call: Arriving at your decision and explaining it; and 3) Executing: Carrying out your decision while learning and adjusting along the way.

Each phase is crucial and each offers "redo loops"—opportunities to correct missteps. By mastering the judgment process, you make decisions that secure widespread commitment to results.

Q&A with Tichy and Bennis

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat
Phone: (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847
E-mail: bernied@umich.edu