3 Types of Leadership Decisions


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This is the 2nd post on the topic of leadership decisions. In the first one, I discussed the nature of leadership decisions and offered some diagnostic questions to help you in thinking through every leadership decision you make. In this post, we will look at three types of leadership decisions. Sometimes leaders look at decision making like a game of rock, paper, scissors. We use the same approach in every situation and we leave it up to chance. But there is a way to think through the type of decision that should be made for the best possible result.

1. The Directive Decision  This type of decision is where the leader alone makes the decision and announces it to those he or she leads. This is an autocratic approach that should be used very sparingly but does have its place. This type of decision is probably most useful in times of crisis. This is when there is chaos and people are looking for a single person or body to make a command decision. Someone needs to take charge and provide clear direction to meet the need.

2. The Consultive Decision  This is where a leader presents a tentative decision and invites input that will affect the final outcome and execution. This may be the most common scenario for leaders in the decision-making process. Leaders should rightly see things from a unique perspective that is more encompassing of the whole. They should have some unique insight that can put forth an initial idea that may need refinement and specificity to actually work. Gathering pros and cons and thinking through the consequences as a team can help to insure a better outcome. These types of decisions build ownership and trust. They also tap into the collective brain power and creativity of a team.

3. The Delegative Decision  This is where the leader provides freedom for making the decision within a prescribed responsibility. This can often take place during the execution phase of leading. This is where you have developed a strong sense of trust with those you are leading and you are able to empower them to make decisions for themselves in how things get done. You may have collectively determined what needs to be done over time but you provide freedom in how those goals and plans are accomplished. This is a great leadership development tool and will help to multiply the leaders necessary for fulfilling the mission. This requires a servant leader who can give away power and control and trust others toward the fulfillment of the mission.

When you are thinking through what the decisions that you need to make as a leader, ask yourself what type of decision is this? What would work best for this problem or opportunity? Is this a directive decision, a consultive decision, or a delegative decision? The desired outcome will help determine the approach.

12 replies
  1. HC Garner
    HC Garner says:

    Good post. Decision styles are directly related to Danile Goleman’s six leadership styles and the requirement to be masters at all six.

  2. HC Garner
    HC Garner says:

    Good post. Decision making styles are closely associated with Daniel Goleman’s 6 leadership styles. Good leaders are masters at the application of each one given the situation. [


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