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It’s Not Hard To Make Decisions When You Know What Your Genuine Values Are

2 February 2015 04:21 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Years ago, a gunman murdered seven people in a fast-food restaurant i n a suburb of Chicago, USA. In his dual roles as an administrative head and spokesperson for the police department, Police Chief Walter Gasior suddenly had to cope with several different situations at once. He had to deal with the grieving families and a frightened community, help direct t he operations of an extremely busy police department and take questions from the media, which inundated the town with reporters and film crews. “There would literally be four people coming at me with logistics and media issues all at once,” he later recalled. “And in the midst of all this, we still had a department that had to keep running on a routine basis.”


Though Gasior was ultimately successful i n j uggling multiple demands, not all leaders achieve the desired results when they face situations that require a variety of decisions and responses.

All too often, most leaders, whether in the public or private sector, rely on common leadership approaches that work well in one set of circumstances but fall short in others. Why do these approaches fail even when logic indicates they should prevail? The answer lies in a fundamental assumption of organisational theory and practice: that a certain level of predictability and order exists in the world. This assumption encourages simplifications that are useful in ordered circumstances. Circumstances change, however and as they become more complex, the simplifications can fail. The bottom line is - good leadership is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Decision-making styles
Business leaders are faced with dozens of decisions that need to be made every day. As their organisations grow, the decisions generally become more frequent, more complicated and have more serious complications. Sometimes it’s not about making the right decision but just making a decision at all. The most successful business leaders will admit they have made many wrong decisions throughout the lifetime of their careers but those failures always lead to valuable learning experiences.

The leaders must master the ability to make good decisions quickly in order to keep the business moving forward. To make it happen, the best leaders, however, know when they need input from the team. Therefore, good leaders surround themselves with trusted advisors and subject matter experts, so that they can access a constant flow of data to make better decisions.
There are four basic decision-making styles that leaders can use.

Command: Command decisionmaking is where leaders make decisions without consulting their teams. This is an effective style, especially when things are moving quickly and the team is looking for immediate guidance. In a business setting, leaders use this style the most effectively in crisis situations. In this type of scenario, there is no time to consult with the team about the best course of action.

Collaborative: Collaborative decision-making is just what it sounds like. Leaders gather their teams and request feedback and insight. The leader still makes the final call but is armed with the proper data to make a more informed decision. This can also be referred to as evidence-based decision-making. With this style and really in all business decisions, a leader must avoid surrounding himself with people that always agree with him. He needs people who are able to strongly argue the other side; whether he uses their advice or not, it will help clarify his decision.

Consensus: Consensus-based decision-making is done more like a democratic vote. Leaders gather their teams and everyone votes. Majority rules. This process can work well when the outcome of the decision affects the entire team and generally won’t immediately affect the bottom line. In a quick-moving business environment, this is not the most efficient way to make a decision but there are still some decisions that can be made this way.

Convenience: When surrounded by trusted peers, sometimes t he best decision a leader can make is to not be the one to make a certain decision. Complete delegation (convenience decision-making) has many benefits including measuring the decision-making abilities of the subordinates and empowering the team. By handing over some decisionmaking responsibilities to senior subordinates, leaders are also building a better management team and giving them the confidence they need as their responsibilities increase. And, convenience-based decision-making is a great way to avoid the decision trap of “we’ve always done it this way.” New decision-makers take fresh approaches to solving problems.

Needed skills
The ability t o make decisions in a systematic way by following whatever the model and being aware of the stakeholders in every scenario is part of the leader’s decision-making process. That points out towards a critical question that needs to be answered. What are the skills needed to become a good decision-maker?

The first and most i mportant component of a leader’s decisionmaking is self-confidence. If he is confident in his mental capabilities and how he envisions the world around him, then he will have no problem in analysing a situation and making a decision he can stand by for better or worse.

That leads into the second element, the ability to be analytical. The value of analysis cannot be overstated because it allows a person to systematically break down a situation and see its i ndividual parts for what they are, thereby, providing a thorough overview.

Thirdly, a major part of decisionmaking is the ability to think critically. The great value of critical thought can be traced all the way back to the philosopher Socrates of Athens, who advocated that critical thought and self-reflection are major components of what it is to be human.

Finally, the last two attributes of being a decisive person are understanding the value of research and the ability to manage conflict within himself and his team and with and amongst others. He must be able to ‘nip things in the bud’ before they grow and turn into possibly destructive forces within the workplace.
All these components make up decisive behaviour techniques and flow out of an overall orientation toward action and an assumption of risk. These components do encourage individual development through selfawareness, as well as skill acquisition and improved competence.

Above all, a good leader must have the edge to make the important yes/ no decisions: the edge or the courage. Courage is the missing link that puts the concept of taking risks and having the guts to be decisive into play and transforms them into a reality, in the face of great opposition.

However, possessing the right set of skills and having the courage to make a decision, does not mean the work is all done. The leader should have his own decision-making process which must take the communication network, the staff and the stakeholders into consideration. There must be a set of steps to incorporate these elements into a process.

This process can be tailored differently for each scenario. For example, it might work something like this: research a situation thoroughly -- analyse all the components -- think of all the people who will be effected by the decision -- think everything through using innovative and strategic thought processes -- have the self-confidence to make a short or long-term decision and the fortitude to stand by it -communicate it to the staff -- and have the ability to overcome the conflict that may arise from the decision. For any leader, this is a tough assignment.
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