According to business expert Peter Drucker, “Wherever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” And courageous decisions are never needed more than during times of crisis.  All crises have distinct features: they are time-sensitive, pose significant risks and require consequential decisions. It is in these times that a leader’s decisions often matter most.  Research has identified the decision-making traits common to successful crisis leaders (Oroszi, 2018). National and international expert crisis professionals in leadership positions from national security, law enforcement and government sectors participated in the study. The experts identified process traits that they felt best reflected their approach to decision-making.  A clear pattern of practice emerged across the crisis leaders’ decision-making.  The pattern was comprised of these traits:

Situational awareness

  • Use objective data
  • Realize conditions continual change
  • Align actions with organizational goals
  • Recognize that organization structure influences outcomes
  • Understand and adhere to time constraints

Group dynamics

  • Engage in conversations and debates
  • Focus on more than one issue at a time
  • Get multiple people involved in the decision process

Decision-making processes

  • Determine more than one response/choice/option
  • Rank order intended results based on importance or value
  • Choose the most efficient, effective option to achieve intended result, and keep other options available if needed.


Oroszi, T. (2018). A preliminary analysis of high-stakes decision-making for crisis

leadership. Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning11(4), 335–359.