9 ways to make a bad decision

When it comes to leadership, decision-making is often one of the most important responsibilities of a leader. Most decisions aren't easy to make, which is why we need experienced, insightful and intuitive leaders to make them.

Each decision — or organizational path — has its benefits, but each has drawbacks as well. Both must be weighed before the path is chosen.

A good decision, and a leader who is able to align the organization (i.e., its people and processes) around the new pathway, can mean many good things for an organization. A bad one can mean disaster.

With decision-making so critical, a leader may wonder: What leads to good decisions? Bad?

A new study published in Harvard Business Review attempts to answer this question. 

Leadership development consultancy Zenger/Folkman analyzed 360-degree feedback data from more than 50,000 managers, comparing feedback on those perceived as good decision makers with those perceived as poor decision makers.

What they found were nine behaviors associated with poor decision makers. They are as follows (Note: I've simply listed them below, but I highly encourage you to read the full article on for a more in-depth analysis): 

1. Laziness — Failure to check facts or assumptions.

2. Not anticipating expected events — Failure to at least consider the worst-case scenario.

3. Indecisiveness — Putting off making a decision because neither choice is perfect.

4. Remaining locked in the past — Relying on the same data as always when new information is available (or, not even considering its availability).

5. No strategic alignment — Decision goes against organizational strategy, or strategy isn't considered when a decision is made.

6. Over-dependence — Failure to act independently, when needed.

7. Isolation — Failure to obtain feedback from various stakeholders and experts.

8. Lack of technical depth — Relying on others for technical understanding of a decision without fully synthesizing potential impacts.

9. Failure to communicate — Failure to communicate the 'why' behind a decision, as well as its potential implications, to stakeholders.

Read the full HBR article by Zack Zenger, CEO,  and Joseph Folkman, president of Zenger/Folkman.

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