Label Abuse

2019-05-30T12:48:06-07:00 July 21st, 2017|Tags: , , , |

Weekly Impact is written for leaders by our Executive Director, Garth Jestley, who has decades of experience in senior leadership roles in the financial services sector. Each week he will share insights on life, leadership and faith.

One of the LeaderImpact groups of which I am a member recently finished a book which, among other things, dealt with the inappropriate application of labels to other people.

The topic prompted me to reflect on the constructive application of labels to information (as opposed to people) in the efficient operation of any business. Marketplace leaders rely upon speedy access to important information in order to successfully lead their organizations. Labelling plays an important role in organizing information.

In 2017, much of the information we store is electronic. The hard copy practise of usIng labels and file folders to organize information, however, is as important as ever. Have you, like me, ever faced the situation where some important hard copy document was parked in the wrong file? With electronic files, this risk is significantly reduced provided the file structure is carefully designed and controlled. In short, labels play a positive role in the organization of enterprise information.

By contrast, labels can be very dangerous when applied to people. In essence, labelling another person frequently categorizes them inaccurately. In fact, my sense is that most personal labels are based upon very little data and a whole lot of judgment! In these cases, labelling can be a lazy attempt to put people in a file folder without going through the real effort of getting to know them through relationship building. Gathering accurate personal data is hard work!

For example, a few weeks ago, I wrote about Angelo Musitano. In response, one of the businessmen involved in LeaderImpact acknowledged that he had labelled Angelo a mobster based upon incomplete data. I suspect he was far from alone!

In fact, while Angelo had been deeply involved with the mob, he surrendered his life to Jesus several years ago. As a result, he became a totally new person. At the time of his murder, he was a very active member of LeaderImpact in Hamilton and had positively impacted many people over the last several years with his story of personal transformation resulting from his relationship with Jesus.

In the Bible, Jesus spoke about judgment (labelling) in the following passage:

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37, NLT)

I am judged by my own message! How about you?

Garth Jestley is a husband, father, grandfather, leader and business executive. Most importantly, he is a follower of Jesus Christ.