The Seven Decisions of Decisive Leaders

Decisiveness is a strength and weakness. I often hear complaints about bosses who can’t make decisions. Then there’s the leader who makes all the decisions. In both cases the results are the same.


Decisions made in isolation make others feel they don’t matter. They complain, “What’s the use?” Surprisingly, leaders who can’t make decisions produce the same “what’s the use” response.

Decision-making gone bad devalues and disengages.

Successful leaders are decisive. The issues are:

  1. Method. How to decide?
  2. Timing. When to decide?
  3. Frequency. How often to decide?

Decisiveness falls flat when leaders make up their minds before discussion or feedback. Conversations with predetermined outcomes aren’t discussions. At best they’re information. At worst they’re coercion or manipulation.

Decisive leaders know too soon.

#1. Decide slow comes before fast.

#2. Decide input is essential.

Decisive leaders tend to quickly judge suggestions and rule out options. Elevate curiosity at the beginning. Pursue decisions at the end.

#3. Decide to withhold judgment.

Decisive leaders tend to think about solutions in private and then inform in public. Before seeking solutions ask:

  1. Is this someone else’s decision?
  2. Who needs to know?
  3. Who needs to be involved? Those most impacted should be most involved.
  4. What’s the timeline?

#4. Decide, “How should we decide.”

Decisive leaders create teams who wait for decisions. Everyone sits around waiting for the chief to nod so they can agree.

#5. Decide to make fewer decisions.

#6. Decide to equip others to make decisions.

Focus more on pointing the way than making decisions. Explain what’s important now.

#7. Decide your job is defining “what.” Their job is finding “how.”

Bonus: If the decision is yours alone, invite others to challenge it.

Leaders who persistently make decisions in isolation end up stressed out and alone.

How or when does decisiveness go wrong?

How are good decisions made?