Under Armour CEO on Decision-Making

CEO Decision-making

Kevin Plank, Under Armour CEO, interviewed by WP Engine CEO Heather Brunner during the event; Photo credit: Austin Technology Council

I attended the Austin Technology Council CEO Summit last week and heard Kevin Plank, the founder and CEO of Under Armour, give the best quote of the entire event: 

“As a leader, I don’t believe in right decisions or wrong decisions. It’s about being decisive.” 

He captured a thought about CEO decision-making I’ve had before but couldn’t express succinctly. People often ask me about my worst decisions as CEO, but I’ve never felt like I had a good answer. I can’t really pinpoint what my best decisions have been either. The point is that I don’t view events as discrete decisions but a continuous process of decisions. While certainly in hindsight some things didn’t turn out well, that doesn’t necessarily mean those were bad decisions.

Also, a good outcome doesn’t necessarily mean it was the best decision possible. As a CEO you must be decisive but also constantly reflective and willing to change course when presented with new facts. No decision is final. This is one of the odd balancing acts that CEOs must perform. It can make you crazy. You have to make quick decisions, but you also have to be open to the fact that any of those decisions could be wrong and should be changed. The people who course correct the fastest in their decision-making process are the ones who have most success in the CEO role.

Overall, the event was a success with more than 165 local executives in attendance. One regret I had, which was shared by many of my fellow CEOs in attendance, was that there were not more young CEOs there. I personally invited several from the Austin region to attend, but too many think they don’t have time for events like this. They missed out on all the incredible experience and connections gathered in that room.

As I mentioned in my last post – 12 Ways CEOs Build Learning into Their Daily Routines – those who make time for events like this are often the most successful, because they have learned what their responsibilities are and how to balance them. In addition, they have an attitude of being open to learning and growing. Those who believe they don’t have the time for personal development are not doing their jobs properly. This brings all this back to CEO decision-making: It’s a process that can be learned and honed, but only if CEOs take the time to do it.


1 Comment

  1. Plank’s personality reminded me of the following quote “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.” General Patton!

    He’s the Patton of T-shirts and Tennis shoes! 🙂

    PS. somebody at Under Armour is doing a dang good job picking athletes to rep the brand – Brady (Superbowl), Spieth (Masters), Curry (NBA finals, MVP). Tall cotton picking!


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