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Making decisions means taking risks…because you can never be 100% certain of the outcome. That’s what a good leader does; takes challenging decisions, after weighing the pros and cons of each outcome – whether it’s deciding what direction to move the company in or whether or not to keep an employee. 

The question is what if the leader doesn’t have all the information. The truth is that no leader ever has ALL the information. Good leaders take decisions based on a combination of facts and instinct or as many say “their gut.” This is crucial in decision-making… having the courage to listen to your instinct is often what differentiates a good decision from a bad decision.  

Timing is another overlooked aspect of decision-making. An effective leader will know when to make the decision. Is the available information adequate to make a decision or should I take more time to gather additional information? Sometimes the information-gathering process has to stop, and a decision must be taken. This is the mark of a good leader… understanding when to take a decision.  

In my work as a leadership coach, one of the key elements of decision-making is emotional intelligence. According to a recent article in Psychology Today, this is the ability to identify and control both your and others’ emotions, and to apply that ability to certain tasks. When I work with organisational leaders, this is one of the core leadership skills, I believe, needs to be honed and developed in order to be effective at decision-making. By understanding and accepting your emotional reactions to certain situations, you will be in a position to make decisions that are not influenced by those emotions in a negative manner. This quote sums up the importance of emotional intelligence in decision-making process. 

“People who are emotionally intelligent don’t remove all emotions from their decision-making. They remove emotions that have nothing to do with the decision.” — Prof. Côté, University of Toronto. 

A balance of reason with emotion is key when a leader has to take a decision.  

Different leaders have different styles of decision-making. In an article in Forbes Magazine, ex -Navy SEAL Brent Gleeson, suggests that there are four decision-making styles that leaders have in general and in most cases, a combination of these styles is used when making decisions.  

  1. Command – This is where leaders make decisions without consulting their teams. Not the most popular, this style is mostly used when decisions have to be taken on the spot; in emergency situations or when time is running out. 
  1. Collaborative – As the name suggests, this is when leaders ask the opinions from others in the team and after discussing the pros and cons of different opinions, takes a decision. In this approach it is ultimately the leader who takes the decision after consulting with the team. It is important for leaders to surround themselves with colleagues who may have opposing points of view from them. Having only “yes” people around who agree with everything the leader says or does defeats the purpose of a collaborative approach. 
  1. Consensus – A decision is taken almost like a democratic vote. Leaders gather their teams and the decision is put to a vote.  
  1. Convenience – This is when the decision-making is handed over to someone else, for example, the team leaders or the managers. Whilst this style demonstrates trust in your team, it also may be construed as a way of passing responsibility on and is therefore not always appropriate.  

In any organisation a leader is likely to use all these styles of decision-making in different situations. A good leader will know which style is most appropriate for a given situation.  

As a leadership coach, I work with organisational leaders and entrepreneurs from varied industries to understand ‘what makes them tick’ and to find ways to help them understand themselves as leaders and what they can do to become better leaders and decision-makers. We work on specific strategies using a collaborative approach… and lots of time spent outdoors [Symbol]. 

Do you want to get more clarity on how to become an effective leader? Book an Orientation Call today to find out how I can help you make decisions without all the information. Or read more on my website about how my COPATM framework can open up creative and insightful ways of fast forwarding your professional journey.  

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