Leadership

Strong Leaders Use the Five Levels of Decision Making

Leaders, are you surprised by the number of people who are indecisive? They dredge up all manner of excuses, fear who they may offend, and procrastinate. Yet, a decision must be made. So you, as a leader, do so.

Yet, once you do, those same indecisive people are the first to criticize your decision—and you. Your managers or staff may say they felt uninvolved in the decision. They complain and fail to buy in. You explain to no avail that you empowered them, but they failed to act, which left the decision to you, their leader.

Indecisive individuals are immature and self-centered. They make poor leaders.

Leaders are faced with decisions on a daily basis. They must make decisions in a timely manner and commit to seeing them through. They take responsibility for their decisions whether the reality of the consequences are good or less than good.

Strong leaders also recover quickly from the ramifications of poorer decisions. They think of a decision as a step to learn and grow from and don’t get bogged down in self-pity or the mire of failure.

One way to avoid conflict in decision making is to assure your staff understands the five levels of decision making.

Level One: The Leader Alone Decides.

This is used in situations when immediate action needs to be compliant and without hesitation. This is when the leader is in the best position because of clarity of knowledge to make the decision.

Level Two: The Leader Makes the Decision with Input from Key Individuals/Stakeholders.

Input from others assists by providing information to cover blind spots so the leader may better understand the depth of the issue to be decided. Furthermore, making the decision without the key insights of these people would be a foolish decision. The leader, however, reserves the right to decide independently once apprised.

Level Three: The Leader Builds Consensus with Input from a Subgroup, but the Leader Has Final Say.

At this level, the leader calls on an expert group or subcommittee that can work on behalf of the entire team or organization to provide recommendations. The smaller group has representative knowledge. The leader decides once recommendations are reviewed.

Level Four: The Whole Group Votes on a Decision OR the Decision Is Delegated to Someone Else.

There are appropriate times when the entire team must weigh in on a decision, as when dissenting opinions too difficult to reconcile. Debate clarifies the issues so a vote can be taken and the decision implemented. Or, the authority and responsibility definitely shift from the leader who reviews the decision but does not change it. Instead, the leader uses the decision as an opportunity for development.

Level Five: True Consensus.

The leader fully delegates the decision to a group and becomes one of many. The group discusses, discerns, and decides on behalf of the organization. Gathering a consensus is a process not to be rushed, because it means compromise must ensue until all agree to live with the decision.

Strong leaders are savvy about all levels of the decision-making process. To be most effective in all levels, leaders must be fully transparent about what level they are using and why.