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He ability to take timely, clear, and firm decisions, is an essential quality of leadership, but the type of decision needed will vary according to the circumstances. Learn to recognize the implications of taking each type of different decision.


Being Positive

Taking decisive actions does not mean making decisions on the spur of the moment. Although that may sometimes be necessary in emergencies, and occasionally desirable for other reasons – for example, if the right decision is obvious, the correct definition of “decisive” in this context is “positive”.

The true leader must approach decisions confidently, being aware of what must be taken into account and fully in command of the decision-making process. Understand what kind of decision is required from you, and do not be afraid to change the decision if circumstances subsequently alter.


Making Fast Decisions

It is important to be able to assess whether a decision can be made quickly or whether it can wait. For example, if a good customer demands an instant discount, you have to decide on the spot whether to grant the concession in order to keep the business and the customer’s goodwill. However, if you are considering a programme of price cuts on your own initiative, you can decide what to do when you are ready.

Good decision-makers often do make instant decisions – but then they assess the long-term implications.





The decision, once made, cannot be unmade – such as when signing an agreement to sell or buy a company.

Commits you irrevocably when there is no other satisfactory option to the chosen course.

Should never be used as an all-or-nothing instant escape from the general indecision.


The decision can be changed completely – either before, during, or after the agreed action begins.

Allows you to acknowledge a mistake early in the process rather than perpetuate it.

Can be used when you see that circumstances may change, so that reversal may be necessary.


The decision is not final until the first results appear and prove themselves to be satisfactory.

Requires positive feedback before you can decide on a course of action.

Useful and effective when the correct move is unclear but the general direction of action is understood.


Taken in the knowledge that changes in plans will be forced by what actually happens in the course of action.

Allows you to adapt and adjust plans continuously before full and final commitment.

Uses positive and negative feedback before you continue with a particular course of action.


After the initial step, further decisions follow as each stage of agreed action is completed

Allow close monitoring of risks, as you accumulate evidence of outcomes and obstacles at every stage.

Permits feedback and further discussion before the next stage of the decision are made.


Decisions allow for contingencies and problems that may crop up later. Decision-makers hedge their bets.

Limits the risks inherent in decision-making, but also may limit the final gains.

Allows you to scale down projects that look too risky in the first instance.


Decision altered if certain foreseen circumstances arise. An “either/or” decision, with options, kept open.

Prepares you to react if the competition makes anew move or if the game plan changes radically.

Enables you to react quickly to the ever-changing circumstances of today’s competitive market.


Put on hold until decision-makers feel the time is right. Go-ahead is given when required elements are in place.

Prevents you from making a decision at the wrong time or before all the facts are known.

May mean that you miss opportunities in the market that needed fast action.



Try never to make decisions when under extreme time pressure.

If and when decisions misfire, take fast action.

Never postpone vital decisions – make them quickly.