Why do leaders make bad decisions? – Karthik Siva

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Leaders often make bad decisions.

You may wonder – why is that?

To address this question, it is important to understand what it really takes to make a good decision. The answer is surprisingly simple – it is clarity.

The ancestor of all good decisions is almost always mental clarity. When the mind is not clear, a leader ends up making bad judgement calls.

Let’s quickly look at how mental clarity gets compromised. I will explore three things that cloud clarity.


A big ego dramatically diminishes the mental clarity of a leader. This is because she is compelled to take everything personal and makes important judgement calls where “We” is ignored and “I” is magnified’!

This lays the ground for arbitrary, authoritarian and biased decision making.

Blind Spots

Let’s face it – everyone has blind spots. If you are Chinese, you may unconsciously end up working or collaborating mostly with other Chinese people or institutions.

If you are Christian, you may gravitate towards other Christians and may ignore the rest.

Your race can be a blind spot.

Your gender can be a blind spot.

If you are a guy, you may mistakenly believe that women may not be suited for certain roles.

Leaders can often make decisions based on unverified personal assumptions. All of these are blind spots.

These are subtle and insidious. As the saying goes – “It is not what you don’t know that will
kill you. It is what you think you know, but actually don’t.”

Bad Mental Habits

Nobody is truly immune to bad mental habits.

These mental habits may be procrastination. It maybe avoidance of conflict.

An obsessive pursuit of perfectionism is yet another popular bad habit.

Another common habit is the inability to get into the small details before a big decision is taken.

All these habits compromise clarity and impair sound decision making.

How well do you rate your decision making capability?

Are any of these factors diminishing your mental clarity?

How do you plan to address them?

Karthik Siva is a highly acclaimed and respected international strategy consultant, nation branding expert and leadership mentor to CEOs and entrepreneurs. He is the Chairman of Global Entrepreneur Xchange, the founding Chairman of Global Brand Forum, Asia’s most influential Forum for brands, business and leadership, described by BBC as the “Davos of Branding” and by Straits Times Singapore as the “World Cup of Branding”.

Karthik is also a highly sought after keynote speaker and trainer in international and regional forums. Karthik’s leadership and expertise has been recognized and commended by several CEOs and entrepreneurs including Nobel prize winner and former Vice President of the United States – Al Gore. Karthik is also the author of Tools, Tips & Thoughts for Entrepreneurs, SPARK and How to Present and Persuade with Power?.

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