Mastering Impulse Control: How it Sets Exceptional Leaders Apart?

Impulse control is often the most overlooked leadership behavior. You must make rational and thoughtful decisions for your organization as a leader. We live in today’s fast-paced business environment, where it’s easy to get impulsivity to get the best of you. Impulsive behavior involves acting on immediate desires without considering the long-term effects of the potential risks. When you make decisions impulsively, you take actions with minimum planning.

Everyone acts impulsively occasionally. However, when this behavior becomes a habit, you experience risk in all areas of life, including finance and relationships. It’s when your mind’s second habit, managing impulsivity, plays a crucial role. In this post, we will explain the meaning of impulse control with its examples, the reasons leaders take impulse control and effective strategies leaders must adopt to remain less impulsive.

Understanding the Meaning of Impulse Control

Different people define impulse control differently. The term refers to the ability to control one’s emotions and desires. Your impulses present their expressions through actions, thoughts and behavior occurring in any situation, especially difficult ones. Managing impulsivity refers to the ability to think before taking action and remaining calm and thoughtful even during confusion and chaos. It’s the ability to resist the urge to react emotionally and respond to the situation logically and reasonably. This behavior is essential for all leaders, enabling them to make better decisions and avoid costly mistakes.

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Consequences of Impulsive Behavior in Leaders

In an organization, a lack of healthy behavioral patterns can be expensive, especially for the leaders. Do you know the characteristics of an impulsive leader? You will find it driven by actions instead of logic. They make decisions depending on their feelings during the particular situation. They fail to take the best course of action for the situation, leading to several problems, including:

Poor Problem-Solving Skills

Impulsive leaders fail to think things before acting on them and fail to consider all the possible consequences, making shortsighted decisions. An example of this involves a leader yelling at the team before understanding the root cause of the problem and working to find a solution.

Financial Problems

If your leaders fail to consider long-term goals, your organization might experience several financial problems. Some companies have a surplus of inventories, equipment, and employees that hurt their bottom line. Your impulsive leader might start projects to abandon them, wasting the money spent.

Lack of Focus

Impulsive leaders lack focus as they move back and forth from one task to another. They fail to have a real sense of the organization and do not prioritize their activities. The lack of focus is contagious, affecting all your employees under the charge of the impulsive manager. Without the knowledge of focusing on the most important tasks, your leader fails to prioritize and delegate responsibility among the employees. Since impulsive leaders fail to delegate tasks, it creates a lack of focus on the employees, as they do not know the most important tasks.

Worsens Employee Relations

Your employees often lack known expectations from your managers and other leaders. In such a scenario, the manager-employee relationship is often tenuous, forcing them to leave the organization. For instance, your impulsive manager tends to fire employees on a whim, which might cause fear in their employees, only out of a sense of necessity and survival. Your employees fail to perform their jobs due to their loyalty to the manager.

Why Leaders Make Impulsive Decisions?

Today’s corporate landscape is fast-paced and constantly evolving. An agile and efficient often faces several challenges, forcing them to make impulsive decisions. Here are the three most common reasons why leaders make impulsive decisions.

Information Overload

The digital era brought forth a torrent of information. Leaders and managers can access more data than before, a boon and bane. Although data-driven decisions are essential, sifting through an avalanche of information is overwhelming. Similarly, with the sheer amount of data, leaders experience analysis paralysis, leaving the managers unable to make any decisions.

Time Pressures

In the dynamic business environment, leaders often face stringent deadlines and must deliver the results quickly. Research reveals that time pressure significantly impairs decision quality. Moreover, the desire to emerge as decisive and respond rapidly to any emerging challenge often overshadows your managers’ need for careful consideration.

Fear of Missing out On Opportunities (FOMO)

The fear of missing potential opportunities is another driving force behind a leader’s impulsive decision-making. The business world creates a perception that opportunities are fleeting, and delays might cause the organization to lose prospects. The fear often increases when you see your competitors seize the opportunities. FOMO often causes your leaders and managers to jump into decisions without thoroughly understanding the risks and implications.

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Strategies to Adopt for Being Less Impulsive

Knowing the pitfalls of information overload, time pressures and FOMO helps you make a conscious effort to balance the need for swift action and thoughtful deliberation. Besides, here are some actionable tips that help you avoid impulsive decisions.

Take a Backward Step

Whenever you experience a tough decision, it’s easy to feel that you must act quickly. However, it’s incredibly valuable when you take a step back and allow yourself time to think. Before you make any decision, take a deep breath and assess the situation objectively. Do not forget to determine the potential consequences of each decision and the decision that aligns with your goals.

Focus On Long-Term Goals

As a manager, it’s natural that you want to solve a problem quickly and move on. However, it sometimes leads to shortsighted decisions that do not address the root cause of problems. You often focus on short-term outcomes. Instead, focus on the long-term outcomes of your decision, as it helps or hurts the organization in the future.

Seek Input from Others

As a leader, it’s easy to feel and think you must make all the decisions alone. It’s not true. Seeking input from others helps you make better and more informed decisions and avoid acting impulsively. Encourage your team to share their thoughts and ideas. Ensure to consider them carefully before making any decisions.

Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness helps you stay in the present moment and avoid getting swept up in your emotions. Spare a few minutes daily for meditation, or focus on your breath. When you experience high pressure, ensure you know your thoughts and feelings. Never let your thoughts and feelings control you.

Remain Patient

Are you trying to control your impulsivity under control? It doesn’t happen overnight. Leaders spent several years adopting the above strategies and keep improving them. These strategies encouraged several organizational leaders to create policies at work that help create an atmosphere reinforcing mindfulness and keeping work-life balance in check. For instance, you can ask your team members to delete Slack from their phones and not answer emails during their weekends. It helps in promoting healthier habits within you and your team.

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Learn From Your Mistakes

Remember, no one is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes and use the knowledge to make better decisions in the future. When you make a mistake, take responsibility and determine what went wrong. Determine how differently you can handle the situation and prevent similar mistakes in the future.


Your decisions shape your personal and professional lives. By adopting the strategies mentioned above, the benefits are double. Besides helping you avoid adopting impulsive decisions, they make your decision-making process robust and agile. As a leader, your decisions must be insightful and not rapid.

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