5 Decision Making Styles

By Ron Pereira Updated on January 13th, 2011

Let’s suppose you are a parent and decide to ask your kids to help you make an important family decision. 

After careful consideration your kids share their thoughts with you only to learn the decision had already been made and the fact you asked them for their thoughts was really just window dressing. 

If you don’t have kids replace “parent” with boss and “kids” with your name. 

How do you think your kids would feel?  How would you feel if your boss did this?  Maybe they have!  Odds are your kids will be ticked, hurt, and maybe even a little embarassed.  And guess what, the next time you really do want their advice or ideas you may be out of luck.  Same goes for your knuckle headed boss.

Well it doesn’t have to be like this.  Instead of making your kids (or employees) wonder what kind of decision making process you are planning to use why not just tell them up front. Here are the main decision making styles I know of.

  1. Telling – This is pretty straight forward.  You have made the decision and announce it and life marches on.
  2. Selling – This is similar to telling, since the decision has been made, but the decision maker feels inclined to gain some level of commitment as they explain how they came up with the idea.
  3. Testing – Here the decision maker announces the issue and offers his or her solution.  They then listen to others thoughts which helps them scrub and polish their idea.
  4. Consulting – In this scenario the decision maker doesn’t have the answer and asks for ideas.  Once he or she hears something they like they let it be known that no more ideas are needed.
  5. Collaborating – Here everyone works together to solve the problem.  This approach takes the most time and also requires discipline and an experienced leader of people.

The last style, collaborating, is my preferred decision making style.  But I do believe there is a time and place for many of the other styles.  For example, in times of crisis or danger there may be no time for collaborating.  Instead, the leader must step up and make the call. 

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