Byron's Babbles


Posted in Discretion, Education, Educational Leadership, Global Leadership, Leadership, Leadership Development by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on March 10, 2022

I did a Bingo card strengths/talents/values activity during a leadership development gathering this week with the great leaders I get to work with at Hamilton Heights School Corporation focused on building highly effective teams. The focus was on both being a great team member as well as being a great team leader. Filling out the Bingo card starts as an individual activity, but also has some time allowed for discussing getting to exactly the right words and helping each other find the right words. I always do this activity right along with the groups and my Bingo card is the featured photo of this post. This group was really into getting the right words to describe their strengths, talents, skills and values. This group’s discussion inspired me to think deeper about those traits as well.

It always seems that in the days after doing this activity I come across an intriguing word that I would maybe like to add. Today, while reading the incredible book The Body Scout by Lincoln Michel I read the line, “Do you know what the most important trait we look for in a great baseball scout? Discretion!” I have paraphrased a little here, but discretion is an interesting trait. Check out the definition:

New Oxford American Dictionary

I love the dual definition that discretion has. Discretion is something we should have as a great leader and team member. And, it is something we should give as a great leader. It is so important for us to use discretion when working with others. Great leaders are required to extensively exercise discretion to address the issues they face. Discretion must be used in the current context. Discretion is a behavior that involves using our core values. The sniff test I use is asking the question, “Is this my story to tell?” Guess what? Most of the time it is not. That helps me use discretion.

Additionally, as a leader whose mantra is “make it so” we must be ready to give discretion to those we serve. That also means we must have those we serve developed with the technical skills to effectively use that discretion. This really made me think about those times when I’ve been told, “Byron, use your discretion.” I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel really good! Think about how that makes others feel when you say it. As a teacher, it also gave my students incredible agency, gave them tremendous empowerment, and engaged them.

So, I encourage you to use discretion! It really is an important trait. But remember, great leaders do not use their discretionary freedom for personal rather than organizational benefit. With discretion comes the ‘do the right thing’ distinction and we must be aware of the importance of choice and vision. At the same time once a choice is made it’s critical that ‘things are done well’. In other words, the choice made is executed well, and others on the team are given discretion, thus engaging everyone in the delivery.