CEO Series: 7 Ways to Become a More Decisive Leader


There’s so much that goes into being a successful, well-rounded business leader. From drive and discipline to flexibility and empathy, it seems leaders need to have it all. But one must-have quality of a good leader is decisiveness.

According to a Harvard Business Review study, the ability to make decisions with speed and conviction is one of the four things that set successful CEOs apart.

“High-performing CEOs do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time; rather, they stand out for being more decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with greater conviction. They do so consistently—even amid ambiguity, with incomplete information, and in unfamiliar domains.”

But being consistently decisive is more difficult than it might sound. Let’s explore some strategies that will help you become a more decisive leader.

1. Don’t Give In to Fear

It can be quite intimidating to make decisions, especially when they impact a lot of people or the direction of a company. But fear can be paralyzing — causing you to take too long to come to a decision. Try to let go of that fear and remember that making the wrong decision from time to time is inevitable. Everyone does it, and it’s not the end of the world. The key is to acknowledge when you made an error and work to correct it.

2. Avoid Overanalyzing

It’s easy to get lost in information gathering when weighing a decision. Of course, you want to have as much data as possible to support your decision, but there has to be a limit. As you strive to be decisive each day, try to more quickly analyze the important factors related to your decision without obsessing over every minute detail.

3. Set a Deadline

To avoid never-ending over analysis, set a due date for your decision. It’s often prudent to make decisions in a time-sensitive fashion, so you might have to force yourself to do so if you’re really struggling. It also helps to share that deadline with a colleague so they can hold you accountable.

4. Clear Your Head

Sitting at a desk agonizing over a decision can get quite tiresome and can cause you to get even more stuck. Try getting out of the office to take a jog, ride your bike, get lost in nature, or do anything that switches focus from your impending decision. Even just sitting outside without any technology can help your brain take a break and reset.

5. Limit Your Options

Tall or Venti? Whip or no whip? Iced or hot? Sometimes even the smallest decisions can be overwhelming when there are too many options. Try to pare down your choices to avoid evaluating the pros and cons of every possible outcome. It’s much easier to select an option between two or three than it is from 10.

6. Seek Help from Others

No one knows everything, and making your decision without the input of others is often a mistake. Involve people who have different expertise and think differently. They will likely help you see your decision from angles you haven’t considered, which will certainly lead to a more well-informed action. It can be especially helpful to seek help from a mentor who has experience making big decisions.

7. Ditch Perfection

Every single decision you make won’t be perfect — and that’s OK. Shift your focus to considering how your decision will impact your overall vision for your department or company. Will it get you closer to where you want to be? Will it benefit your team’s goals? Think big and be ready to pivot if things don’t go as planned.

Above all, remember that making even a slightly flawed decision can be better than taking no action. And if that decision does turn out to be less than ideal, own up to it and devise a plan to move forward. Lean into the freedom that comes with abandoning fear and move forward with confidence. You’ll be a better leader for it.

See Also:

Reboot Your Business Space: How to Make Your Workplace More Human

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes: the Importance of Practicing Empathic Leadership

CEO Reboot: You Can Teach a Lead Dog New Tricks, Redeveloping Your Good Work Habits

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