HomearticleGood Judgement, Coaching Parallels

Good Judgement, Coaching Parallels





Following on from my blog Coaches Don’t Judge! I was curious to find an article on The Elements of Good Judgement in a recent edition of HBR.

The author of this interesting piece, Sir Andrew Likierman, suggests good judgement is;

‘an interpretation of the evidence that points to the right choice’

He goes on to elaborate much more fully what he means by this statement in his article but it was his particular use of language in this definition that caught my attention.

As a coach I find the idea of ‘right choice’ interesting as what I deem to be the right choice will often be very different to what you deem to be the right choice. Rightness is totally subjective and part of the craft of coaching is to help people understand the subjectivity of the words and language they use and how this subjectivity is contributing to ways of thinking and behaving.

Subjectivity sits in the meaning being made of words and language and is informed by many things including personal values and experiences.

An accomplished coach is able to help   enquire into the meaning you are making of the situations you are experiencing and then help you maximise what is working well and recraft what is no longer useful.

Meaning making is neither right nor wrong, it’s either moving you towards or away from what you are seeking.

In his article Likierman offers insights into the behaviours of leaders who have been deemed to demonstrate good judgement and this is where it gets even more interesting from a coaching perspective.

Here is the list of the qualities leaders with good judgement demonstrate:

  • Good listeners and readers

  • Able to hear what other people actually mean

  • Able to see patterns that others do not

  • Able to recognise parallels or analogies that others miss

  • Able to recognise their own emotions and biases and take them out of the equation

  • Adept at expanding the array of choice under consideration

  • Consider implementation

You could just as easily be reading a list of qualities of an accomplished coach!

The parallels continue as Likierman explores the concepts of:

  • questions that draw out interesting responses

  • picking up on what is not said

  • looking for gaps and discrepancies in what is being said

  • ability to detach intellectually and emotionally

  • having processes in place that keep you aware of your biases

  • believing that other options almost always exist and being open to radical options.

So many of these elements feature both directly and indirectly in the well-researched ICF Core Competency Model released in October 2019

Let’s take a closer look through the lens of  a couple of the ICF competencies.

Competency 2.3 Coach develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching

In coaching reflective practice is proven to enhance a coach’s ability to notice themselves in the process and develop their ability to reflect on their own emotions and biases. This results in a stronger ability to regulate one’s own practice. Likierman is suggesting that leaders who exercise good judgement have processes in place that keep them aware of their own biases.

Competency 6.3 Recognises and inquires when there is more to what the client is communicating

This competency sits in the ‘Active Listening’ groups of competencies where awareness of context, environment, experience, values and beliefs are also mentioned as well as an ability to hear much more than only the words being spoken. Listening to more than the spoken word enhances the ability of the listener to ask well crafted questions which are much more likely to raise awareness, consequently resulting in more effective choices and decisions.

There are many more parallels in the ICF competencies to explore relating to good judgement and it would be fairly easy using this evidence base to start to draw conclusions about the ability of accomplished coaches to exercise good judgement. The more interesting point to consider though is the positive impact of good judgement in organisations as more and more leaders choose to add coaching skills and approaches to their leadership skill set.

I’m now pondering two exciting questions, each one addressing each of these final points:

1) What are the possibilities for the coaching industry and its impact on effective leadership if we embrace the idea that great coaches are accomplished at exercising good judgement?

2) What could it mean for effective judgement and decision making in organisations if more leaders developed a higher level of coaching competency and reflective practice as part of their leadership skill set?

Jane Porter is a Master Certified Coach (MCC with ICF) and Head of Coaching (IECL), working across APAC both in person and virtually. Her focus is on increasing the ability of Executives and Internal Corporate Coaches to deal with the complexity.


Good JudgementICF Core Competency ModelLeadership Skillsorganisational