It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.–Proverbs 31:4-5
I’m not going to be discussing drinking in this post in great detail, that’s a whole post by itself. However, in this verse Lemuel was discouraging the king/leader from drinking as it impacted their ability to carry out their duties. I want to discuss how we let influences impact our leadership and decision making, whether that is in our homes, workplace or communities. First, we need to see what the roles are of a leader
Impact of our physical and emotional state
As leaders, we need to have a clear mind, as being a leader involves a lot of decision making. There are many things that can influence our mental thinking. What we eat can impact how we think. The stress of our jobs or lives can impact how we think or react to situations. Exercising can change how we deal with problems. Our emotions and our physical state can greatly impact our mental ability and that leads to our decision making.
How many times have we been hungry and we start getting grouchy? I can tell you at work, some of my worst decisions have been when I’m hungry. I don’t have my focus in the right place. My concentration is on making myself not feel hungry. We need to have a proper diet to feed our mind. Exercise helps us have more energy, to be more alert. Being alert helps us make better decisions.
I mentioned stress earlier affecting our decision making. Stress has a tendency to make our perspective change, which changes how we lead. Many times we’re more easy going when we are happy and quite the opposite when we are in bad moods.
What does this have to do with leadership?
Just as Lemuel was talking about wine influencing the judgment of kings, how we treat our bodies and cope with our emotions affects how we lead and the decisions we make. It determines how we treat people. When we’re making decisions, especially important ones, we really need to be aware of our mindset. Are we feeling physically fine? Do we feel hungry or physically worn down? How are our emotions? Are we happy, angry, sad, irritated, etc? All of these physical and emotional feelings influence our decisions making. There have been many times when I’m at work, I’ve pushed back making a decision because I knew I wasn’t in a good mood. Sometimes we don’t have that option, and being aware of how you feel physically or emotionally can help guard against making a bad decision. I know when I feel tired, I don’t care as much even though I know I should. In that case, I know I have to focus more. If it hasn’t been a good day, I know that I can be more harsh if I have to have a discussion with an employee about performance. In those situations I question myself on if I am being too harsh. Am I fairly critiquing their performance?
Although Lemuel was talking about wine, we need to be careful what other influences impact our judgment when leading or making decisions. If we’re careful when we know we’re not at our best, we’ll end up reducing the amount of bad decisions we make and be better leaders.