The Different Decision-Making Styles - dummies

The Different Decision-Making Styles

By Dawna Jones

What kind of decision-maker are you? To help you find out, review the different styles of decision-making. These styles are conveniently labeled, but how you apply them depends on each situation you’re in and the people you’re with. The following is a list of decision-making styles, drawn from the work of Kenneth Brousseau, CEO of Decision Dynamics:

  • Decisive: With decisive decision-makers, time is of the essence. Their mantra is “Get things done quickly and consistently, and stick to the plan.” This decision-making style applies one course of action, using relatively little information. Being decisive comes in handy in emergency situations or when you have to clearly communicate operational-level health and safety decisions.

  • Flexible: Flexible decision-makers are focused on speed and adaptability. They acquire just enough data to decide what to do next and are willing to change course if needed. This decision-making style works with several options that can change or be replaced as new information becomes available. Being flexible comes in handy when you have to make decisions in dynamic, uncertain situations. Flexible decision-making is relevant to all levels of decision-making.

  • Hierarchic: Hierarchic decision-makers analyze a lot of information and seek input from others. They like to challenge differing views or approaches and value making decisions that will withstand scrutiny. Once their minds are made up, their decisions are final. This decision-making style incorporates lots of information to produce one option. This characteristic can be handy, depending on the application; financial forecasting and capital procurement decisions come to mind.

  • Integrative: Integrative decision-makers take into account multiple elements and work with lots of input. They cultivate a wider perspective of the situation and invite a wide range of views (even ones they don’t agree with). They flex as changes arise until time is up and a decision must be made.

    This decision-making style uses lots of information and produces lots of options. It’s handy for executive-level or managerial decision-making in fast-moving, dynamic conditions where the decision has a big impact on people or resources.

If you don’t feel like you fit into any one of the decision-making characteristics listed here, rest assured. First, you bring more than what is described here to the business decision-making process. Second, these styles are not exclusive: You may use characteristics of more than one style, or you may use different styles in different situations.

Your approach to decision-making must change as you move into different levels of responsibility and into new decision-making territory. What works at the operational level, for example, is a disaster at the strategic level. To change your mindset as a decision-maker, you must be willing to increase your flexibility and flex your brain muscles.

You must let go of what you’re comfortable with to enter different decision-making territory, which will expand your decision-making skill.