The 4th season of Downton Abby has started, and it’s one of my favorite TV series at the moment. One of my favorite characters is Carson the butler, played by the great actor Jim Carter. According to the story line, Carson began his butler career as a boy. He learned wisdom and discretion from years of serving and observing and is a pivotal and valuable employee and confidante – which is why viewers love to watch him in action.
Discretion is learned by observing and using wisdom. Leading women know how to do this either in the workplace or at home. Discretion means behaving or speaking in such a way as to avoid causing offense or revealing private information. It is also the freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation. Good leadership through wisdom allows us that freedom.
Three things we can learn from Carson:
Don’t jump to conclusions. Discretion means gathering all the facts before opening your mouth. Sometimes knowing what NOT to say is more important than knowing what to say. It can be humiliating and painful if you are wrong.
Meaning well doesn’t trump performance. You have to do the right thing even when it is temporarily painful. Keeping employees because they are loyal and have a good heart won’t move you or your company forward. You do them a disservice by keeping them at a job they have no talent for and are failing in.
Finally, get a second opinion. When you are really perplexed and don’t know what to do, have one or two people in your circle that can be discreet and trustworthy to give you perspective.
James 1:5 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
Has there been a situation in your career where discretion mattered more than being right?