5 Secrets Great Leaders Know about Difficult Decisions

5 Secrets Great Leaders Know about Difficult Decisions

Decision-making is key to leadership. Great leaders know that, especially when it comes to making difficult decisions. As a leader, you may face a daunting choice and need help working through the decision making process.

Preparing to Make Difficult Decisions

Great leaders know that difficult decisions carry consequences with them. To prepare, these leaders review the information before them, consider their options by weighing the pros and cons and then decide.

What separates good leaders from great leaders is what happens next. Great leaders prepare to accept the consequences of their decision. To do this, be prepared to:

  1. Stand alone. – This is probably what frightens leaders most: They’re worried that no one will support them. But as General Douglas MacArthur said, “A true leader has the confidence to stand alone . . . He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” In other words, though the decision you make may not be the popular one, but it could be the right one.
  1. Be criticized or second-guessed. – Great leaders know that they won’t be right 100% of the time. And they know that not everyone is going to agree with every decision they make. Be receptive to other ideas and opinions, but don’t be afraid to choose an unpopular option.
  1. Be misunderstood. – Sometimes the decision-making process requires taking a long view. If people look at the short-term effects of the decision, they may not understand the reasoning behind your choice. In this case, you may need to explain your decision-making rationale to bring people on board.
  1. Follow through. – No matter what your choice is, don’t just sit on it. Act. Make sure you do everything you commit to and more, if necessary.
  1. Admit when you’ve made a mistake. –One of the worst things a leader can do is to be inflexible and stubborn. Instead, use errors as teaching tools. These valuable insights build wisdom. Admitting you made a mistake shows humility and serves as an example to others.


Keep making decisions, even if you made a wrong one.

We aren’t perfect. And not every decision we make is the right one. Don’t let that stop you. Great leaders look at something that didn’t go as planned and are willing and able to adapt. If you tried something that didn’t work, the experience gained will help you make better, more effective choices later on.

What difficult decisions have you had to make? What has been the reaction to those decisions, and how did you respond? I’d love to hear how you’ve worked through the decision making process, so please share in the comments below.

–       Dennis

PS – For help developing your decision-making skills, get in touch with an executive coach. If you have a tough call to make and you’re not sure how your company will respond, give me a call me or shoot me an email. We’ll go through the decision-making process together so you can be confident in your choices.


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