Career Woman

Seven steps to decisive leadership


What are the key personal attributes that can transform managers into leaders and good leaders into great ones?

In the new book, Leading Well (Major Street Publishing $34.95), CEO of the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (IML ANZ) , David Pich, along with co-author and board chair Ann Messenger, have written a research-based guide which identifies the key personal attributes that create strong, honest and effective leadership. In this exclusive extract below, chapter authors Bill Kernoczy and Luke Challenor discuss the Seven steps to decisive leadership:

  1. Gathering information from a broad range of sources.

    A decisive leader avoids an echo chamber of their own opinions and instead strives to consider thoughts that differ from their own.

  2. Fostering constructive conflict.

    Such conflict is best described in the context of collaborative problem-solving. The leader should encourage the sharing of information in raw form to allow others to formulate their own conclusions. This part of the process should ideally be viewed as a collective effort to test and evaluate possible alternatives to allow innovative thought to be expressed.

  3. Honestly considering the alternatives.

    The act of considering the alternatives results in a leader engaging in thoughtful analysis and avoiding settling prematurely on easy, obvious answers. Any stakeholders should feel that they had a genuine opportunity to influence the outcome; the leader should seek to achieve this by actively listening to and investigating the alternative idea presented.

  1. Not dominating the process.

    The leader should avoid disclosing their personal preferences too early in the process or giving any indication they have already made a decision, so as to avoid side-tracking the process.

  2. Testing assumptions.

    The leader must be able to discern between ‘facts’ that have been tested and those that have been merely assumed or asserted. He/she should seek the objective input of a helpful contrarian who will ask hard questions to initiate healthy debate. After the decision is made, the leader should be open to fine tuning in the event the assumptions are found to be incorrect.

  3. Making a clear yes/no decision and thoroughly explaining it.

    Making a good decision loses meaning if it is not acted upon. To give credence to a decision and effectively mobilise the people and resources required to put the decision into practice, the leader must clearly explain the thought processes behind the call and convey how each participant’s input affected the final decision. As different people process messages differently, the leader should be concise and avoid ambiguity in his communications.

  4. Staying involved with the execution.

    If a decision is not successfully executed it is a poor decision, regardless of the thought and process behind it. Rather than simply ‘pulling the trigger’ a decisive leader remains engaged with the execution of the decision, requires continuous feedback on the results, makes adjustments if necessary and provides active support to those whose remit it is to carry out the decision.

Edited extract from Leading Well: 7 attributes of very successful leaders (Major Street Publishing $34.95), now available at all good book stores and online at

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