Make Better Decisions: What Decisive Leaders Say

Decisive leaders navigate decision-making with a blend of intuition, outside perspectives, and adaptability. This article helps you find a balance.

This article was originally published in Character Core Magazine by Strata Leadership in the March 2024 edition.

We can all fall into three common traps when making decisions: seeking consensus, making decisions final, or ignoring our intuition. Based on my work with exceptional leaders and growing organizations, I see these pitfalls avoided when people seek perspective, make "for-now" decisions, and trust their instincts.


Seek Perspective, Not Consensus

In organizational systems, any one perspective is insufficient; therefore, we must seek a broader perspective from others. Other people see facets we can't, and it's only through dialogue that we see more of the system, which allows us to make better decisions. Groups of people striving for consensus often get struck trying to make the elusive “best” decision. Gino Wickman's Traction suggests a process - Identify, Define, Solve - which empowers one person to own a problem and to reach solutions by inviting others to share their perspective. Instead of asking, “What do you think?” the best question we can ask is, "What am I missing?"


Make "For-Now," Not Final, Decisions

No one likes to revisit past decisions, but if we consider progress to be incremental, we see that each opportunity to revisit a decision allows us to discard what didn't work and to reinforce what did. Since most managerial decisions are impermanent and adjustable, we can propel others to action when we opt for "for-now" choices over final decisions. Instead of saying, "This is what we are going to do," consider saying, "This is what we are going to try." If we encounter resistance later, we can overcome others' hesitance with questions like, "Could you support this choice for now?" Only by asking questions like these will we find the issues that matter most.


("Could you support this choice for now?" is a question to ask when you need buy-in even if they don't fully agree a decision. You can learn more about the "three degrees of agreement" in our article: How to Improve Your 1:1 Meetings.)


Trust Intuition

Intuition is invaluable yet easily disregarded. Daniel Kahneman's Thinking, Fast and Slow affirms the reliability of our gut feelings, acknowledging that we are more often right than we are wrong, even though we only rationalize most of our actions in retrospect. While our intuition is often correct, it isn't always; therefore, being the first to acknowledge and rectify occasional misjudgments will enhance trust. Pairing intuition with "for-now" choices allows experimentation with a safety net: "This might not be perfect, but I have a feeling we should try it for now."


Own Authority

We all have some decision-making authority. We must simultaneously own it and acknowledge our limitations. As decision-makers we cannot operate in isolation: we must actively engage others, be action-oriented, and learn from our mistakes.



Wickman, G. (2012). Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. BenBella Books. 

Kahneman, D. (2012). Thinking, Fast and Slow. Penguin. 

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