There is an ongoing debate around why people make the decisions they make: Is it about personality or does it all come down to strategic thinking? The answer may lie somewhere between the two because while everyone has a personality default and preferred approach, once understood and identified your decision-making style can be honed and adapted to better your business. According to business coaches, there are 4 distinct types of decision-making styles and as an entrepreneur it is useful to understand your particular vantage point. This is because only then can you pivot and change your strategy according to different situations that arise in business. So which decision-making style do you employ?

1. Directive decision-making

This type of thinker has a very low tolerance for ambiguous scenarios and typically approaches situations by outlining all the pros and cons. They also typically draw on their own knowledge, experience and rationale, rather than seeking advice from others. The upside here is that decisions are owned and made quickly. The challenge however is that they can also be made too impulsively and without all the crucial information on hand. This type of decision-making style is ideal for situations that involve repetitive scenarios that have a cause and effect outcome. However it can become problematic when complex situations are over-simplified and in these times, a different approach might be more appropriate.

2. Analytic decision-making 

This is a more thorough (albeit laborious) decision-making style. This type of decision-maker likes to analyse the entire picture, draw on different data and invite other’s opinions. This does not mean that this type of leader doesn’t like to control the decision-making power, but the way they go about it is by gathering information from various sources in order to confirm or deny their position. This type of decision-making is ideal for scenarios that may have more than one right answer. Here the analytic decision-maker would gather a team around them, examine the facts and discuss conflicting opinions openly and honestly. All the while it’s up to the decision-maker to sift out non-expert opinion in order to make an informed, logical decision. The con of this style is that it can lead to analysis-paralysis and if left too open-ended it may be time to embrace a new approach.

3. Conceptual decision-making

This is a very creative type of decision-making style that invites collaboration and lateral thinking. This decision-maker takes a long-term view and looks deep into the future for results.  Conceptual decision-making is best used for scenarios with many potential outcomes, unknown variables and no immediate solution. It is ideal for identifying patterns that evolve over time and which draw a host of scenarios around how to deal with all those variables. This is best suited to a leader who invites an experimental environment and who is open to other’s opinions and innovations. It also requires someone who is very patient and open-minded.

4. Behavioural decision-making

This type of decision-maker likes things to be cohesive and function as a unit. Like the conceptual-style, this type of decision-making style is group orientated but instead of brainstorming in a wide format, the group is given a range of existing options to choose from. From here, the group discusses the pros and cons and can collectively own the outcome. This approach is inclusive and invites a certain amount of introspection from the team. As a leader it is crucial that these types of team-members are hired from the start, as it requires very proactive engagement. The problem with this type of ‘round table’ approach is that you can very easily find yourself going in circles around ‘said’ table. In the same way there is always a judge that can override the jury, it requires a decisive leader to consider all scenarios and make a final ruling on a way forward.

How can you adjust your decision-making style?

An effective leader should be able to flex and bough between various decision-making styles depending on the scenario. Different scenarios and contexts will require you to make different types of managerial calls. That said, it is not always simple to identify your approach to your own decision-making style. This is where a business coach comes in: An effective coach will help you identify your decision-making style and guide you with step-by-step ways to adjust in the moment. They will also help you practice and hone skills that may not come naturally to you. By understanding your normal approach and pairing this will the tools to switch when needed, you can avoid unnecessary pitfalls, maintain productivity and develop a dynamic work environment. As business coach Tony Robins says, “This will then allow for the ideal balance between staying committed to your decisions, but being flexible in your approach.”


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