Leading With Discernment

“Discernment is not knowing the difference between right and wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” Charles Spurgeon.

"My son, do not lose sight of these— keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble." Proverbs 3:21-23.

Discernment is a vital and multidimensional leadership ability. Similar to wisdom, it's an ability that develops over time which is indispensable in the leadership of others. Discernment is a combination of cunning curiosity, uncompromising character, missional alignment, and the courage to act at the right time and in the right way. It's acquired through failure which means you need to be keenly aware of your insecurities because it requires some grit to endure the loss. It also requires the acumen to observe, synthesize, and translate information in a way that benefits those they lead and the mission they champion. And remember it's not about being smart - it's so much more.

Here are four principles that will help.


Principle One | Discerning Leaders Have A Cunning Curiosity
Great leaders ask the very best questions. Discernment requires an inquisitive nature and aspiration to advance in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Discerning leaders understand that stakeholders take what they say seriously and that this will lead to followers to draw conclusions and take action that has an impact on people. Therefore, they never assume, and as a result, they inquire about everything before concluding. Discernment begins with gathering the best information.

Principle Two | Discerning Leaders Have Uncompromising Character
Leaders with discernment are people with an exceptional moral compass. They have integrated their thoughts, feelings, and actions with sound moral judgment. Leadership decisions made without regard moral character will always injure people and damage organizations. For those who are followers of Christ, our witness is impacted when we compromise our integrity. Therefore by remaining true to our biblical convictions, we become a leader that others can trust both in work and life. And this has the potential to influence organizational cultures and a person's personal choices positively.

Principle Three | Discerning Leaders Align Character With Mission
Discerning leaders don't just act; they act in alignment with both their personal character and organizational mission. Like great leaders, they want to drive the purpose of the organization forward but in a way that brings out the best in them and others. Therefore they never act independently of the mission they steward, or independently from the character they profess. They chose to be conscious of shady transactions and decisions in business and life. As a result, they use the full force of who they are to influence maximum impact. Anyone can be an employee, but a discerning leader aligns their character with the mission to influence and shape it.

Principle Four | Discerning Leaders Act With Courage To Win
Discerning leaders act to win. They have an inclination for action and an impulse for change. However, their actions reflect the ability to put disparate pieces of information together into a coherent whole and then make a decision. They are never indifferent or indecisive. Instead, their choices are carefully thought and deliberately executed. And while they take risks, they are always calculated having considered the unintended consequences. They act to win, and through this, they demonstrate visible forms of discernment.

Today as you lead consider your discernment. Slow down and develop this ability. Give time to forge your character, competency, and skill in leadership from the inside out.

Vince Miller Founder of ResoluteVince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 13 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.