I collect definitions of leadership. One of my favorites is, “A leader is a person who makes decisions, some of which are right.” Every leader would like to make the best and right decision every time, but that is not the case, as we are all finite and flawed. Dan Rockwell shares 10 heart-based questions that produce the very best decisions.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell


As a leader, making better decisions

The future is shaped by today’s decisions.

Failure to make decisions ends leadership.

Forward-facing decisions always impact behaviors. If behaviors don’t change, everything stays the same.

Decision making tools are useful and necessary, but fall short. 

12 head-based decision making tools:

  1. List pros and cons.
  2. Consider cost/benefit ratios.
  3. Explore risk/reward.
  4. Draw a decision tree.
  5. Seek counsel.
  6. Gather information.
  7. Generate options. Four options are optimal for most decisions.
  8. Sleep on it.
  9. Set a deadline.
  10. Invite constructive dissent.
  11. Study forces for and against. Force Field Analysis.
  12. Take a vote.

The above list only scratches the surface of strategies and techniques for decision making. The problem with decision making models is heart and character are assumed, but not explored.

10 heart-based questions:

Use applicable decision making models. But before pulling the trigger on decisions, ask 10 character/heart based questions.

  1. What does courage/confidence tell you to do?
  2. What does humility tell you to do?
  3. What does integrity/honesty/openness tell you to do?
  4. What does flexibility/agility tell you to do?
  5. What does perseverance tell you to do?
  6. What does compassion/kindness tell you to do?
  7. What does decisiveness tell you to do?
  8. What does respect for others tell you to do?
  9. What does passion tell you to do?
  10. What does seeking the best interests of others tell you to do?


If you have four options on the table, rank each option on a scale of 1 to 4. For example, which option best expresses courage? Which option is least courageous?

It’s likely that your exploration will need to be weighed. Consider which questions matter most in your current context.

Personal experience:

Leaders find new options, clarity, and energy by asking heart-based questions. First, generate options the traditional way. Then consider character and heart.

What questions would you add to a character/heart based approach to decision making?

Which of the 10 questions do you find most impactful? Why?