Decision Style

Posted on May 15 2009

Decision Style will dictate how a person will make a decision. A person’s decision making process depends to a significant degree on their intellectual style. A person’s decision style is based largely on their personality type – for example, someone is deemed a “thinker”, and also tends to extroversion, sensing, and judgement would tend to have a logical, analytical, objective, critical, and empirical decision making style.

If you are a manager or a leader, one of your key responsibilities is decision making. It’s your job and needs to be your decision style to make decisions that are in the best interest of those or what you manage. Your responsibility is large, and many don’t appreciate the impacts of your direction, nor appreciate the process and effort required to arrive at the point at which you must be.

Decision style has a huge impact on the decisions made. Decision styles may change based on the decision required to be made. A great leader will tailor his or her decision style to appropriately fit the situation and constraints. Democratic decision style is when the leader gives up ownership and control of a decision and allows the group to vote. Majority vote rules, and the final action was chosen by all.

Advantages include a fairly fast decision, and a certain amount of group participation. The disadvantage of this style includes little responsibility. Individuals are not responsible for the outcome.

Often, the Group Decision Making takes no real responsibility because members be reluctant to admit voting for a failed option. Lack of group and personal responsibility seems to reduce the value this style of decision making but it is often used in business where individual preferences rather than organization bottom line is at stake.

Autocratic decision making is a directive decision style, when the leader maintains control and ownership of the decision. The leader defines problem, diagnoses problem, generates, evaluates and choose among alternative solutions.

The leader is also completely responsible for the outcome as a result of the decision – good or bad. The leader does not seek input from external sources and decides from his or her own internal information, experience and perception of the situation.

A variation of autocratic decision making is autocratic with group information input. The leader defines the problem. Although the leader diagnoses the cause of the problem, the leader may use the group as an information source in obtaining data to determine cause.

The leader will use a list of potential solutions, and may once again obtain data from the group in evaluation of these alternatives and make a choice among them.

A second variation is one with Group Decision Making review and feedback. The leader defines the problem, diagnoses its causes, and selects a solution. The leader then presents his or her plan to the group for understanding, review, and feedback.

Advantages of an autocratic decision style include a very fast decision, and personal responsibility for the outcome by the leader. This is often used in emergency situations, and is usually the best choice.

The disadvantages can include less than desirable effort from the people that must implement the decision. If the employee is personally affected by the decision but not included when the decision is made, morale and effort may suffer.

The effect is not always predictable. If the outcome for the decision is not positive, members of the organization begin to feel they could made a better decision and the leader may lose credibility and support.

Individual Consultative Decision Making style occurs when a leader defines the problem and share this definition with individual members of a work group. The leader solicits ideas regarding problem causes and potential solutions.

The leader may also use these individuals expertise in evaluation of alternative solutions. Once this information is obtained, the leader makes the choice of which alternative solution to implement.

Advantages are that expertise has been sought out, and buy-in from top level members of the group or experts is seen as contributions. Disadvantages lie in that those not in the Group Decision Making may shun the decision, believing that the group did not consult enough of others and don’t have a wide enough perspective.

Collective – Participative decision style is when the leader involves the members of the organization. The Group Decision Making as a whole proceeds through the entire decision making process. The group defines the problem and performs all other functions as a group.

The role of the leader is that of process facilitator. Multiple perspectives of the issue are sought out because the leader deliberately asks and encourages others to participate by giving their knowledge, ideas, perceptions, and information concerning the decision.

The leader maintains total control of the decision because, although outside information is considered, the leader alone decides.

The leader is also completely responsible for the good or bad outcome as a result of the decision. The advantages include some Group Decision Making participation and involvement. This is especially valuable when a person is affected negatively by the decision.

In most cases, the individual is informed before the decision is implemented (no surprises) and usually feels good about personal involvement. It is often used in reorganization or reductions in a company. Who or what should go?

The disadvantages of this style are a time consuming decision; less security, because so many people are involved in the decision. See Consensus Decision Making If the leader is a good communicator, and listens carefully to the information collected, he or she will usually have a more accurate understanding of the situation and make a better decision.

Consensus Decision Making is when the leader gives up total control of the decision. The complete Group Decision Making is totally involved in the decision. The leader is not individually responsible for the outcome.

The organization or group is now responsible for the outcome. This is not a democratic style because everyone must agree and “buy in” on the decision. If the group cannot get total commitment and agreement by everyone, the decision becomes democratic (if a fallback exists).

The advantages include Group Decision Making commitment and responsibility for the outcome. Teamwork and good security is also created because everyone has a stake in the success of the decision. A more accurate decision is usually made, with a higher probability of success, because so many ideas, perspectives, skills and “brains” were involved in the creation.

The disadvantages include a very slow and extremely time consuming decision. It is also a lot of work getting everyone in the organization involved. Often there are personality conflicts of those involved. Working together involves a learning curve.

A Leaderless Team decision making style, is when a group has no formal leader, but rather is assembled as a leaderless team. If there is no task leadership, or process leadership present, a process leader often emerges. This person may change from task to task. The Group Decision Making generates its own problem definition, performs its own diagnosis, generated alternatives, and chooses among alternatives.

The advantage is that the group will likely support the decisions made, but disadvantages like in lack of ownership, responsibility and ability to guide and steer the group without wasting a lot of time and fighting over who is the real leader.

The decision style is truly unique to the person using it, but this page can help you to understand how decisions are being made based on the styles used.

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