Decision Making In Leadership
"Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the 'ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome.' You must be willing to fire." T. Boone Pickens
"Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed." Proverbs 15:22
Leaders are required to make decisions and as the leader and organization grow and the complexity of the decisions increase, and the results take on more probable consequences. Three potential pitfalls are not making necessary decisions, making decisions without the required counsel, or putting off deciding till every detail is perfect. Great leaders will tell you that they have made far more unfortunate choices than the best ones, but they will also tell you that they learned from every bad decision allowing them to make more good choices as time progressed. As a leader, you should be conscious of the four standard methods of decision making and the upside and downside of each.
Four Ways Leaders Make Decisions
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One | Command
Here decisions are made unilaterally by the leader without the involvement of others. In certain command structures, like the military, people with the power to make decisions must act promptly within their area of influence to resolve an issue. The upside is decisions get made quickly. However, sometimes command decisions carry with it a downside. Without the voice and counsel of others, we can be surprised by the unintended consequences of the judgment or the lack of ownership that may result. Command decision making is efficient and effective but can feel unilateral where teamwork could be welcomed. But used in the right circumstances, it gets things done.
Two | Consult
In this case, a leader makes the final decision but consults with others in their decision-making process. Generally, consulting with the right team members or stakeholders is a smart decision. Others will hold options, share ideas, see issues, or have opinions we may not have thought of and may well suggest modifications or alternative paths that compliment the views we hold. There is rarely a downside to consulting with the right people in the decision-making process, other than them having an awareness. The key is that they need to be the right people who give sound counsel.
Three | Vote
Voting is a conventional method of executing decisions on boards that include partners or directors that are working together toward a joint mission. Usually, this is used in situations where a group process is mandated or where more than one person is ultimately responsible for the decision made. Church boards or a group of partners often deploy decision-making by vote. But this can be true of a workgroup that is responsible for a project. Used in the right situations and the right way, voting is an excellent way to decide so that the group can move forward.
Four | Consensus
In consensus, a group will discuss and debate until there is general agreement to move in a confident direction together. Consensus sometimes means a group will unanimously agree. But not always. However, they generally agree sometimes for lack of better options. Here you need a deliberate process to arrive at a consensus, and in the end, stakeholders are usually the ones making the final decision and announcement to teams, employees, or the organization as a whole. This type of decision making ensures that boards or groups are operating in harmony and it is often the decision-making process used on senior teams. This process works best where you have other individuals who know how to work together well.
In this end, great leaders will use different decision-making processes in different situations. Knowing which to use in specific circumstances is how leaders make the very best decisions.
Vince Miller is a speaker, author, and mentor to men. He is an authentic and transparent leader who loves to communicate to audiences on the topics of mentorship, fathering, leadership and manhood. He has authored 16 books and small group curriculum for men and is the primary content creator of all Resolute materials. Contact Vince Miller here. His newest book is Thirty Virtues That Build A Man.