Even the best leaders can make poor decisions. They may grow overly reliant on their experience or allow corporate politics to dominate their thinking and decision-making. Leadership coaching can help leaders identify the reasons behind their bad decisions. Understanding the reasons allows leaders to correct the behavior patterns that cause them to slip up.

Leaders are human. As such, they’re subject to all the fallacies and weaknesses that come with the human condition. Yes. They make mistakes. Yes, they make bad decisions. Being a good or great leader does make you less likely to make mistakes, but it doesn’t make you immune to them.

From the perspective of leadership coaching, it’s important to understand why a leader makes poor decisions. Knowing the “why” is key to figuring out how to avoid mistakes and optimize decision-making.

poor decisions

We can all make poor decisions. 

We all remember President John Fitzgerald Kennedy for his famous space race pledge and other moments of brilliance. However, he also had the Bay of Pigs debacle on his tab. The same is true of other high-caliber leaders. Interspersed with their brilliant decisions are some bad ones we tend to forget.

Other leaders engage in repeated mistakes because they’re simply not cut out to be leaders.

Leadership coaching is about helping leaders discover their strengths and weaknesses. Executive coaching can help leaders cope with the consequences of their bad decisions and learn how to see such setbacks as opportunities to derive leadership lessons.

Here’s why even the best leaders sometimes make less-than-ideal decisions.

Too Much Reliance on Past Experience

Executive coaching encourages leaders to build a reservoir of positive leadership experiences, personally or vicariously. They can reach into this reservoir when making difficult decisions, drawing inspiration from their past successes or those of the people they find inspiring.

Becoming overly reliant on this reference reservoir can be a trap. The problem with experience is that it never fits the current situation perfectly. Relying on it may mislead decision makers.

Leaders who reach the peaks of success in one organization often find it impossible to repeat the performance at a different company. Their experiences don’t carry as much weight as one would assume. Instead of helping them, experience often misguides leaders, causing them to make bad decisions.

Keeping an Eye on Corporate Politics

Some leaders consider corporate politics when making decisions. Politics seldom have positive influence on common sense and practicality.

Politics is about getting sucked into various agendas and motives. Leaders who fall victim to the political trap surrender their identities, objectivity, and critical thinking. Under these circumstances, leadership can turn toxic quickly. It forces leaders to adopt motives that don’t align with their identities. Over time, the toxic political relationships can develop into a full-blown addiction on the part of the leader.

Getting addicted to corporate politics is dangerous. It can cause leaders to lose sight of their primary roles and purposes in their organizations. It throws them out of alignment, squandering the trust of employees and rendering them unable to serve those who depend on them.

Leading Without Purpose

Business coaching recognizes clarity of purpose as an essential ingredient of healthy decision-making and progress on the personal leadership and organizational levels.


Purpose is a base ingredient of leadership success. 

Purposeless leaders lose their connections with their leadership instincts. They lose essential parts of their identities and become free-floating non-entities unable to inspire and influence those around them.

The Inability to Spot Opportunities

Business coaching encourages leaders to develop a wide-angle, circular vision. This type of vision is often the result of leadership maturity. It allows leaders to spot opportunities everywhere, even behind failures and setbacks.

A wide-angle leadership vision allows leaders to anticipate challenges and embrace change. Leaders who lack this vision find it impossible to make good decisions. They can’t anticipate hurdles and can’t engage in preemptive change.

The failures resulting from poor decisions drain leaders of self-confidence and set the stage for further failures. Those who no longer trust themselves to lead cannot make decisions that inspire, engage, or empower workforces while propelling an organization towards its higher purpose.


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