The Attributes of Leadership (5)

Decision Making

A leader showing good decision making is aware of the importance of timely decisions based on judgement. They apply clarity of thought to identify the key issues, using experience and knowledge to shape their decisions. They are comfortable making decisions with limited information despite complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity. They achieve this by:

  • Conducting sound analysis of complex problems
  • Taking difficult decisions in a timely manner
  • Taking decisions on the basis of limited information
  • Accepting responsibility
  • Remaining flexible and being able to change their mind when necessary
  • Understanding that consistently making better decisions is the way to improved performance
  • Focusing on the outcome and vision

A leader with good decision making skills is aware of the need for timely decisions based on judgement. Decision making is often a balance across conflicting priorities, without a clear picture of the situation. These decisions are often made with a shortage of time and a difficult choice between options for action.

A leader will go with 80% of the information and manage the remaining 20% of risk rather than delay beyond the right time. This requires the ability to evaluate information demonstrating clarity of thought, decisiveness and sound judgement. Sometimes this judgement will be based of sound analysis and other times it will be based on intuition.

A leader considers the impact that their decisions has on the team and the environment, but does not compromise on doing the ethical thing. It always requires a blend of analysis, experience and risk taking.

It is relatively easy to resolve issues when there is a single clear course of action. Difficulties arise where choice must be exercised between many options and when there is significant strategic impact on the team. Leaders need to think about what they stand for, their values and what regrets they can live with.

The complexity of such decisions requires the leader to be comfortable with risk, uncertainty and ambiguity and comfortable in taking responsibility for the consequences of those decisions. It also requires consummate self-confidence and the ability to monitor the outcome of decisions carefully to reflect and learn and change direction if appropriate.

Dare to Aspire


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