The musicians of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra were once asked to name the most effective conductor. Arturo Toscanini won, hands down. When asked why, one of the instrumentalists said, "He could anticipate when you were about to make a mistake and keep you from making it."

He had discernment.

Discernment, like musical talent, is innate, but it's not like the gift of perfect pitch. The gift of discernment can be taught, practiced, and developed.

I have known many excellent leaders who were not given the gift of discernment. They could not read people. They read figures. They excelled in science, engineering, mathematics, and administration. They depended on management skills and organization.

Those blessed with even a little discernment, however, could develop significant sensitivity and intuition. I am one of those, having used discernment for many years both in manufacturing (overseeing 2,500 employees) and in ministry (chairing several national ministries).

If I ...

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