4 Keys to Great Decision-Making

4 Keys to Great Decision-Making

4 Keys to Great Decision-MakingGreat leadership is based on making sound decisions. It’s simply part of the role. But it can also be one of the toughest things to maneuver. When you make a decision, you have to know how long to stay the course and when to reverse direction.

There are obviously simple decisions—the black-and-white variety—that don’t require a great deal of judgment. Those are the decisions they teach you in business school. But in my experience, most of the answers aren’t easy. Decision-making has many shades of gray.

I compare effective decision-making to baseball. In baseball, if you get a hit one out of every three trips to the plate, you’re in the Hall of Fame. In business, that doesn’t get it done. You need to be right much more often. At the outset, you might not know whether the decision you made is the right one, so it’s important to be honest with yourself every step of the way.

Below I’ve listed the four tenets of decision-making that have helped me throughout my career.


After making a decision, you have to be patient and see that decision through. It could take anywhere from a matter of days to several years for results to provide a complete picture. That’s where honesty comes in. Many leaders tend to get so vested in their decisions they refuse to question them; they perceive doubt as a sign of weakness or a lack of courage. Rather than face the facts, they tend to dig in and become, as we say in the South, mule-headed.


Honesty allows you to objectively assess your decisions and when you should consider changing course. Look at the key indicators for your business: revenue growth, bottom-line growth, increased client happiness and overall company health. This kind of critical analysis will let you know if you need to pivot.

Good decisions are contingent on knowing your business inside and out.


The classic business example of a smart course change was in 1985 when Coca-Cola launched “new Coke” to contest a growing market preference for diet sodas. Within three months, the rebrand failed miserably and the original Coca-Cola was reintroduced. Reversing direction isn’t a sign of failure, but rather it’s evidence of a leader’s commitment to keeping the company’s health a top priority.


Making good decisions also depends on having a group of advisers you completely trust to tell you the truth. A lone wolf leader can often have a rose-colored view of the situation. Surround yourself with honest and objective voices to gain a clear perspective.


Good decisions are contingent on knowing your business inside and out, through a combination of analytical reasoning and gut instinct. Leadership and decision-making are a combination of these factors, and it’s more of an art than a science. If a decision doesn’t feel right in three months, chances are your instincts are alerting you to a disaster waiting to happen.

Leaders have a unique opportunity to influence the lives of their team members. But the responsibility can also keep you up at night, worrying about results and about people’s lives. Decisions at this level are always big and always critical, but the process is pretty simple: Be honest with yourself and be willing to accept when you are wrong. Focus on the goals and the mission of the organization. Know when to abandon the game plan and make a new one. Real leaders know when to put their pride aside for the good of everyone involved.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


recent posts

6 Quotes to Motivate Your Team (Part 2)

6 Quotes to Motivate Your Team (Part 2)

Many of you have thanked me for the 6 Quotes To Motivate Your Team blog. I am thrilled that you enjoyed it! If you liked that one, you are in for a treat. These are three more quotes that I have seen working in the hearts and minds of leaders, teams, and change agents...

6 Quotes to Motivate Your Team (Part 1)

6 Quotes to Motivate Your Team (Part 1)

“TEAM LEADER.” Sometimes it's a title on a door, shirt, or on a plaque, but all too often, it's an entirely unspoken designation. More often than not, if everyone always talks about your unfettered optimism and your infectious enthusiasm and passion for success, you...

A Date With Gratitude

A Date With Gratitude

An Old Friend On my last trip to the UK, I planned to sit down with an old friend to have brunch in East Sussex. It had been a long while since we last connected, and I wanted to make sure I took some time just for him. We chose a wooded spot for a forest brunch so we...

The History of Motivational Speaking Shapes Our Future

The History of Motivational Speaking Shapes Our Future

The History of Public Speaking We've been captivated by words for as long as we've been using them. Throughout history, the power of words has been proven time and time again, whether talking about powerful speeches, letters, poetry, music, and good, or sometimes...


Recent Comments


“The scarcest resource in the world is not oil, it’s leadership.”

As Co-CEO of the largest independent financal services company in North America, John Addison’s skill as a leader was tested and honed daily. He retired in 2015 after taking the company and it’s people to massive heights. He’s just not done helping people get to the top. Today, he’s at the helm of Addison Leadership Group, INC working daily to mentor and educate new leaders.