Decision-Making for Leaders: Beyond Pros and Cons

Aug 31, 2020

You believe in the conclusion, and then you create supporting arguments.
— Daniel Kahneman

You weigh options based on the decision you’ve already made, while pretending to be open minded.

Leaders make decisions and then find ways to look smart for making them.


It helps to know the problem you’re trying to solve before you try solving it.

  1. What problem are you really solving?

  2. Why does the problem matter?

  3. What if you do nothing?


Explain the process when you include others.

Don’t delegate decision-making responsibility if the decision is yours. Explain that you’re exploring options.

How will team decisions be made? Consensus? 100% agreement?


Bad moods produce self-defeating behaviors.

How do you feel? Happy, worried, angry, afraid, fatigued, disgusted? How might your emotional state impact the option that seems most desirable?

Sadness makes you willing to pay more but charge less. Angry people tend to take more risks.

  1. What or who are you protecting? People hate losing more than they enjoy winning.

  2. What does your current emotional state suggest you are trying to achieve?

  3. How might you delay decision-making when emotional states are suboptimal?


  1. Create multiple options and narrow them to three.

  2. Bombard your options with questions.

  3. Include others in the process. Involve Doers and Dreamers.


  1. This decision makes me proud because….

  2. Imagine bragging about your decision to your children, spouse, or parents. What would you say?


  1. How do these options impact relationships with customers? Team members?

  2. How do these options strengthen or weaken relationships?


How do these options serve customers?


Which of these options best fulfills our mission?


How do these options reflect who you aspire to become?


How do these options express what really matters to me?

How might leaders go beyond pros and cons when it comes to decision-making?

What are dumb ways to make decisions?

By Dan Rockwell