Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

5 Keys to Executive Decision-Making

Making good decisions can lead to a long and successful career as an executive.

Top executives in the U.S. earn a median income of over $100,000 a year.* There’s a reason for this high salary. Executives are often entrusted with making a business’s most important decisions. Those who can make the right decisions are worth every penny of their pay. But these successful decision-makers are not relying on instinct. Instead, they follow an executive decision-making process that greatly improves their chances of making good choices.

Individual executives may follow their own decision-making process; however, there are several universal keys to which you should adhere. Five of the most important are:

5 Keys to Executive Decision-Making

Understand the Problem

Important decisions almost always begin with large problems. Perhaps your company’s market share is dropping. Or you are running out of warehouse space. Or you need to market a new product. Whatever the issue, it’s not enough to simply know the problem exists. You need to take the time to understand why it exists and what the consequences will be if the matter is unresolved. The only way you can make a good decision is to begin with a clear understanding of what is at stake.

Gather Plenty of Information

You might have an in-depth knowledge of your company and industry, but there’s always room to learn more. What steps have others in your organization already taken to resolve the issue at hand? How has your organization handled similar problems in the past? How have other organizations handled similar problems? What solutions have proven effective? Which ones haven’t? What are the costs associated with potential solutions? What are the known risks? The better your information, the better your executive decision-making ability will be.

Align Goals

Everyone in your organization might agree on the need to address a problem, but everyone might not agree on the ultimate goal of the solution. If you want your decision to be successful, you need to make sure everyone above you agrees on the ultimate organizational goal before you put any plans into action. If you discover your goals are not aligned with those of your superiors, you will have to be flexible. While you should never promise to achieve a goal you believe is impossible, you should be willing to adjust your own goals in order to get everyone’s goals in alignment.

Get the Right People Involved

The decisions you make will likely affect a lot of people in your organization. Before you make any final decisions, you should gather the leaders from all pertinent departments and listen to their input on the solutions you’re considering. Now’s the time to find out where complications might arise in the implementation of any specific decision. For instance, you don’t want to find out that HR will need a year to staff your initiative after you’ve already decided that your solution must be in place within 3 months. Additionally, by involving key organizational leaders or executives in the decision-making process, you can better ensure buy-in on the decisions you make.

Commit to Your Decision

Nothing undermines a leader’s effectiveness like uncertainty. Once you’ve made your decision, pursue it forcefully. Your commitment to your decision will help build your staff’s confidence and motivate others to execute the tasks that need to be done. If you are uncertain of the wisdom of your decision, you should consider whether you are ready to make a decision. It’s better to take your time before making a decision than to announce a decision and waver a day or two later.

How Can You Learn More About Executive Decision Making?

Knowing how to make a good decision can greatly benefit your career as an executive, but you will need to know a lot more about business to be truly successful. If you’re an executive looking to get ahead or if you want to put yourself on the path to being an executive, you should consider earning a doctoral degree in business. Specifically, you should look into online PhD in Management and online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree programs.

Through an online PhD program or an online DBA program, you can take advantage of all the convenience and flexibility of online education. The best online universities let you earn your PhD in Management or DBA degree in a format that allows you to keep working your current job while you complete your coursework. With an online doctoral degree program, you can gain the knowledge you need to improve your executive decision making and achieve success at an executive level.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online DBA degree program and online PhD in Management degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2015–2016 Edition, Top Executives, on the internet at

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,