This article from the LMI (Leadership Management International) website looks at how decision making styles can affect leadership.
Collectively, all the decisions you make each day eventually determine your success and that of your organization. Improvement in your decision-making ability requires insight into the habits and personality traits characteristic of your usual approach.
Your decision-making style deserves careful analysis. Decision-making styles relate to deeply ingrained personality characteristics. Confident and optimistic leaders make on-the-job decisions with confidence and optimism. By contrast, leaders who are burdened with a low self-image approach decision making and problem solving with fearful caution and pessimistic hesitation. Those who are habitually compulsive and perfectionistic demand excessive data and spend too much time in analysis. But leaders who have faith and confidence in people are able to survey problems quickly. They make decisions based on the information that can be collected within a brief period of time.
When leaders know who they are, what they stand for, what they want from life, and how they plan to get it, they are well-equipped to make the best possible decisions. Effective decision-making is inexorably tied to strong personal and organizational goals. A strong self-image arises from a well-developed plan of action and from criteria against which to judge possible decisions.
Use these personal and organizational values to strengthen your sense of identity and establish firm standards for future behavior. The courage and self-confidence required for decisiveness develop steadily over time. Every small improvement in your decision-making ability strengthens your leadership effectiveness.
Your self-image plays an important part in determining your leadership style or approach to decision-making and problem solving. Take time to examine the way you see yourself and the personality traits and behavior patterns that grow out of your self-image. Set goals to strengthen your most desirable personality traits and to develop new characteristics that will enhance the effectiveness of your decision-making and problem solving:
1. Recognize your typical modes of problem solving. Deliberately apply new approaches to expand the problem-solving skills you now practice. Decide how a given problem can best be solved only after analyzing several methods. Insist upon considering a wide variety of prospective solutions. This open-minded approach enhances your ability to reach decisions and solve problems.
2. Identify any defensiveness in your thinking. You restrict creativity when you jealously defend a position previously taken, protect a pet project, or rely too heavily upon your status and prestige rather than upon performance. Become aware of your own habitual responses. Identify specific ways in which you may be limiting your own productivity—and that of your team members. Then force yourself to make specific changes to unleash your creativity and increase your productivity.
3. Take the risks involved in change. Solving any problem demands that you consider risk versus certainty. The goals of your organization determine what paramount needs must be considered when making any decision. The consequences of various solutions should always be taken into account. But if you never make a wrong decision, you are too cautious! Fear of making a mistake inevitably results in lost opportunities for both you and your organization. Effective decision-making is a process of disturbing your own psychological serenity.
4. Refuse to be excessively concerned with social approval. Personal independence is required to break with tradition and think “outside the box.” Refuse to be overly concerned about what others say, think, or do. You will grow in your ability to solve problems; at the same time, your reputation as someone who “gets things done” is enhanced. When your success becomes evident, social approval follows.
5. View every problem in terms of how it can be solved, rather than whether it can be solved. Edwin Land, the inventor of the instant photographic process, said, “Any problem can be solved using materials in the room.” Assume that there is a solution for every problem, and that you have the potential to discover and implement it. Often, the solution is close at hand, but requires patient search. Use the search process as a vehicle to discover calculated risks that have the possibility of high returns. This sort of positive expectancy destroys the major roadblock to effective problem solving.