What is Your Decision Process and Why?

Have you ever wondered why some leaders tend to not only make so many successful decisions but they also know exactly how to get the most buy-in throughout their team? Have you noticed how excellent leaders tend to move with just the right amount of speed and deftness in decision-making and execution? What these great leaders are displaying is the adept use of a variety of leadership and decision-making behaviors that improve success in decision-making and team building.

After years of research around leadership styles, Yale professor Dr. Victor Vroom discovered that there were five distinct leadership behaviors. Every one has a time and place where it is appropriate. Adept leaders of companies, divisions, plants, sales teams or any team can improve their growth and effectiveness by discerning the right leadership behavior.

These behaviors are described as the following types:

A1 A2 C1 C2 G2

A1 – Leader acts alone. Leader has the information and makes the decision on his own.
• Appropriate if you have all the information and there is no need to create buy-in and time is of essence.

A2 – Leader seeks information from others, but doesn’t indicate the reason and then makes decision on their own.
• Appropriate when you need additional information, and when you need others to remain objective in how and what information they will share with you or when the decision must remain confidential.

C1 – Leader acts in consultation, describes the issue and seeks information and/or opinion from others one person at a time, and retains decision-making prerogative.

C2 – Leader consults with a group, seeks information and/or opinion but retains decision-making prerogative.

G2 – Leader convenes a group and gives the decision-making authority to them. If the leader influences the decision then it is back to C2, but truly giving the decision over to the group is G2.

• C1, C2 and G2 appropriate if the group has agreement on objectives.

Going left to right from A1 to G2 takes more and more time. The further to the right you go the more development and consensus may be built, but there are also factors that can maintain consensus when making decision closer to the left.

If you cannot be certain that all the people throughout the group have all of the same goals and agreement on the appropriate objectives for making the right decision, then G2 will not be effective.

What is most fascinating about Dr. Vroom’s work is that he discovered that in retrospect managers could prove the following:

• 80 percent of the time when you use the feasible set, the decision is successful.

• 80 percent of the time when you don’t use the feasible set, the decision is unsuccessful.

Success was defined as long-term success and included factors like the esprit de’ corps, follow through, economic impact. Success or failure was considered holistically.

So think back to your successful and not so successful decisions or decisions of leaders you have observed. Where did you or they go wrong and what leadership behavior would have been appropriate?

Conducting the self-assessment exercise of reviewing past failures and unsuccessful decision-making can actually reverse the negative impact that was made by increasing the success rate of future decisions and leadership behaviors.

Remember, this skill isn’t just for CEO’s – it’s for managers at every level. Consider taking team members from sales, production, finance and other areas through an analysis of past decision missteps and successes. Discuss when the behavior style was inappropriate and which might have been the better path. Soon you’ll see an impact on success for your team, customers and ultimately growth.