Top Traits of Leadership: Decisiveness

DecideLeaders Decide Regardless…

Decisiveness is defined as being “characterized by firmness and decision.” Being decisive means that you have the ability to decide. But Leaders don’t just have the ability to make decisions, they act on that ability. They put the ability to use.
Leadership requires that you make key decisions effectively.

Decisiveness is both a skill you can build and an internal state you can summon when you need it. But many new leaders, and even more seasoned leaders, often allow their fears to prevent them from making good decisions in a timely manner.

When I worked for the State of Texas, I spent many an hour sitting in a conference room while the big boss spent a lot of time trying to summon the courage to make a decision. He would weigh the implications of his decision (as he should), but then become too focused on the things that could possibly go wrong, rather than focusing on what was best for the organization, for the people his leadership served, and for his own ego. He often allowed this fear of making the wrong decision lead to indecision… and indecision is far worse than making the wrong decision. Making a choice from a place of fear is almost always the wrong decision.

Good leaders weigh their options and make choices that are in alignment with the core values of the organization, as well as their personal core values. Good leaders do not sit on the fence for too long. They understand that with many decisions, time is of the essence, and delaying can be costly in more ways than the bottom line.


Here are a few tips to making effective decisions


1. Assess the situation – Consider the full range of objectives to be fulfilled and the values implicated by your action.

2. Consider the potential outcomes – Weigh the possible outcomes, both positive and negative.

3. View various avenues of approach – The old saying “There’s more than one way to skin a cat” is a well-worn axiom, but it is still true. Assemble your executive team and view the alternative courses of action.

4. Align the decision – Ask yourself 2 questions… “Will this decision move me closer to, or away from, a desired outcome?” and “Is this decision in alignment with company and personal core values?” If the answer to either is ‘No’, reevaluate your decision and choose a different alternative.

5. Own your actions – We all know the difference between “right” and “wrong”, and we can tell “good from “bad”. But we also know that the more difficult decisions come when we have to choose between good and better. The toughest decisions of all are those we have to make between bad and worse. Good leaders will take ownership for the decisions they make when they are the wrong decisions.


Decision making is like a muscle… the more you use it, the stronger it gets. And making the tough decisions gets easier when practiced often. Indecision causes loss of profit, loss of respect, and in some cases, loss of life. In the end, you are going to have to decide anyway, so just do it.


Learn. Lead. Achieve.



Joe Vulgamore is a Life Coach and Leadership Development Specialist – as well as a Personal Development Author and Speaker. He works with people to develop life and leadership skills to sharpen their edge, perform at optimum levels, and achieve excellence. He has 30 years of leadership experience and a proven track record of helping thousands of people from over 14 countries, across 5 continents, to make life-transformations through one-to-one coaching and workshops.

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