Practical insights for leaders

Finding it hard to make difficult and painful decisions?

When you are faced with difficult decisions, a simple and effective approach is to separate the decision from the implementation. This allows you to catch yourself when the emotional fear of the implementation infects your ability to make timely decisions. I have adopted this approach, and it’s a game-changer! More below.


Watch:  The Art of Separating Decisions from Implementation | Matt Mochary & Wei Dang (6 mins) 

In this short clip, the CEO of tech unicorn, Clipboard Health, shares the decision-making framework she uses. Quite simply, it is to separate the decision from the implementation. When leaders feel stuck when making a decision because no option seems attractive, it is often because they are commingling the decision and the implementation. In many cases, the decision itself is often clear, but the implementation likely feels painful. Doing the right thing by your firm and the right thing by your people does not need to be mutually exclusive.


Decision-Making: Separating Decisions from Implementation 

See this link for a step-by-step write-up of this approach by CEO Coach, Matt Mochary. It is also summarised below. 

When thinking about optimal decision-making, ask yourself:

  1. ‘Who is our most important stakeholder?’.  
    • If you are involved in a company, this will likely be your customers.
  2. Then, ask yourself, ‘What is in the best interest of our most important stakeholder?’
    • This answer is the correct decision. Write it down. 
  3. Only now, think about implementation. The decision will likely be difficult and painful to implement as you will perceive that it causes injury to others and yourself.
    • Consider how implementation (e.g. letting go of an underperforming employee) might be done in a way that minimises the impact on the affected person. 
    • Ask the person, ‘What is most important to you?’,  and think about ways to help them achieve that (e.g. if it’s financial security, help that person consider new job options).


Making decisions is one of the hallmarks of a successful leader. Don’t fall into the trap of ‘analysis paralysis’.