Decisive Judgment: The Hidden Secret to Finding a Superstar Executive Director

Making good and informed decisions in a limited period of time is a crucial skill required for leading a senior care community – and one that almost all organizations are looking for when hiring an Executive Director. What happens, though, if the resume or interview doesn’t tell the whole story?

While many candidates can create the impression they are competent at making good decisions under pressure, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s something that comes naturally for them. Let’s take a look at superstar Executive Directors and identify why they are so effective at making high quality decisions when it matters most.

Decisive Judgment – What is it & How is it Measured?

Decisive judgment is the extent to which one effectively evaluates situations and makes high quality decisions in a timely manner. To the naked eye, individuals who naturally possess this skill seem to have an answer to every problem and rarely falter under pressure. They are the go-to “problem solver” in their community and the main point of contact for peers who are looking for a wise answer to an immediate issue.

Due to the value they bring to the organization, we oftentimes want to replicate their attributes when looking for our next Executive Director. But – as with many great things – pinpointing exactly what makes them so successful at efficiently solving problems can prove to be a vague and challenging task.

Our experts and industrial psychologists analyzed the Decisive Judgment competency in Executive Directors at a number of different senior care organizations. Their goals were to provide clarity into WHAT makes an effective and timely decision maker and HOW to identify and select candidates who are a natural fit. Here’s what they found:

Is the Candidate an Impulsive or Careful Decision-Maker?

Does the candidate have a deliberate and serious style when deciding on a course of action, or do they prefer to make decisions very quickly? It’s important that an Executive Director weighs risks and options appropriately when making decisions – avoiding being too impulsive to make poor decisions or too careful to let opportunities pass them by.

Do They Enjoy Detailed Work?

All individuals have a degree to which they enjoy engaging in detailed-oriented tasks, as opposed to disliking them. Effective decision-makers tend to err on the side of looking into relevant details before making decisions – even if they think they already know the solution.

What is Their Level of Follow-Through?

Can the prospect be relied on to follow through and demonstrate commitment, or are they prone to being too flexible with their priorities? As a main report to the Executive Team, it’s crucial that the ED values following up with other key leaders to ensure alignment when making decisions.

Are They an Intuitive or Factual Thinker?

When looking to identify an impactful ED, it’s essential to know if they tend to view situations factually, or if they prefer having a more personal frame of reference. High performers balance facts with intuition before drawing conclusions and tend to be objective thinkers.

How do They Approach Their Work Process?

The extent to which individuals prefer to be organized and structured in the way they work, rather than taking a less methodical approach, is different for each candidate. No matter the approach, a good talent match will prefer to account for all relevant details when making business decisions.  Successful ED’s tend to be able to operate in less structured environments and readily adapt to changing situations.

Are They an Imaginative or Practical Thinker?

Is the candidate prone to draw from past experiences that are practical, or are they an imaginative, wishful thinker? When determining realistic solutions, a great ED is likely to bring a fresh perspective which balances creative possibilities with practical considerations.

How Much Information Do They Need Before Taking Action?

Does the candidate need to thoroughly consider and seek out information before taking action, or are they comfortable with limited information? When thinking about a solution, top-tier EDs will tend to be able to make decisions and take action without needing to invest significant time and effort into research and analysis.

Do They Need Support from Others When Making a Decision?

As the main leader and source of contact for their community, high-performing Executive Directors prefer to rely on themselves, as opposed to seeking support from others and needing direct guidance. By being willing to act independently and take responsibility for important decisions, precious time can be saved in situations that require quick thinking and confident responses.

Remember: All candidates exhibit these traits on a scale – allowing for thousands of different variations and uniqueness in determining a talent match.

Example: When taking into account “Objective Thinking,” a candidate is very rarely either a fully intuitive or fully factual thinker – they are somewhere in between. It’s the “in between” where the true understanding of the individual is found.

If you’d like to further explore how our tools can identify the best candidate for the Executive Director position FOR you, we’d be happy to discuss your needs with you and provide you with a sample candidate selection report. Just CLICK HERE and we will get it sent right over.

Currently looking to select the right talent matches at other positions? Comment on this post or get in touch with me over LinkedIn, send me an email at, or visit and I will send you information for the exact position you’re looking to match.


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