The First Commandment for Decision Making


Our founder, Gino Wickman, developed “The 10 Commandments of Decision Making” when he wrote his e-book, “DECIDE!”, based on his personal experiences as he interacted with leaders and their teams.

In the coming weeks, I would like to share them with you with some of my own thoughts and ‘experience-shares.’

The First Commandment of Good Decision Making:  Thou Shalt Not Rule by Consensus

I took the Myers-Briggs assessment for the first time in my early 30’s.  I was told that my profile matched Dwight Eisenhower’s profile.  I was curious, so I read up on him beyond what my public high-school education had provided me.

One could mount a credible argument that Eisenhower’s go/no-go decision for Operation Overlord (“D-Day”) was one of, if not THE biggest, hardest, and most consequential decision ever made by mortal man. Long-term, hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of lives were in the balance.

The go/no-go decision was his alone.  There was no vote among his team… his generals.  They had input, but he made the decision.

Ike knew the decision was his to make because the Allies had delegated that decision to him.  It wasn’t Roosevelt’s decision.  It wasn’t Churchill’s decision.  It wasn’t de Gaulle’s decision. Nor had Eisenhower delegated the decision to his leaders or a committee.  (Thank God, because his generals did not agree.  If he had insisted that his generals reach consensus, most Europeans would probably be speaking German today.)

He reserved the go/no-go decision for himself.

As a leader, you reserve many decisions for yourself.  When you face a difficult decision and you’re uncertain, it’s still your decision.

As you build your team, you may delegate the authority for other decision-making to various members of your team. Watch them, especially if they are new to their leadership position or unfamiliar with wielding delegated authority:  Inexperienced leaders may conflate consensus-based decision making with the healthy, collaborative work environment you have built. When they do, tough decisions won’t get made and chaos is going to erupt.

It’s said that the kindest thing we can do for our employees is to provide clarity.  When you have leaders with teams of their own working for you, be sure you provide that clarity to them:  who decides what?

Teams and committees can study, research, collaborate, debate, argue, and recommend.  They can’t decide.  The person that leads that team has to be the decider.

Let me end with a partial Margaret Thatcher quote:  “Consensus … [is] the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved.”

If you’d like to discuss the various challenges you face or would like to learn more about EOS, please visit my website, or contact me directly at [email protected].

Stay focused.  Press on.


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