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Bring Prudence Back Into Leadership

Prudence, also known as wisdom, is an invisible virtue with impressive influence. More or less, prudence is making a good judgment on how to act before doing the actual act.

If only being really wise all of the time was that easy. Obviously with life’s complexities and unforeseen events, it’s not always easy to react using perfect judgment. Also, while it may be relatively effortless to judge bad from good, it is not always effortless to judge good from the best–especially in leadership.

It’s important to understand what prudent leadership is not. Even though it requires enabling discretion appropriately, it’s not the same thing as consistently hesitating so as to avoid mistakes. Being a leader is not like navigating a minefield; we cannot treat it as such.

Too often modern leaders approach their roles with caution, especially when it comes to expressing objective opinions that might offend some or when it comes to making decisions that might not benefit some. If this type of carefulness is normalized, organizations grow more and more cold with fear and avoidance, never having the courage to move forward in a good direction.

This is not to say that compassion is not at the forefront of a prudent mind. In leadership, sensitivity and selfless thinking is owed to the people that are being led. However, the willpower to encourage the organization towards its mission in the best way possible is also owed. That unfortunately means prudence requires making unpopular decisions sometimes. If we ever find ourselves in an adverse position like this, we can just think of how Abraham Lincoln must have felt when the abolition of slavery during his time was controversial with a lot of people he was a leader to.

Prudence is necessary in order to seek the common good for all. Prudence historically has been a valued character trait in leadership in America, but it has largely been disregarded overtime. It is recoverable, though, and is essential for extraordinary leadership.

Stephanie is the Operations Manager for Families of Character

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