Team Leadership Guide

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  Decision Making  

Decision making is a process of moving into the future following an identified course of action.  Because things are rarely certain in business, the selected courses of action are based on judgments and assessments that contain elements of speculation.  However, actions are speculative in proportion to the information available and the accuracy of data interpretation. In short, decision making is not so much a precise science as it is a process of making educated guesses based on research, experience, and planning.

When making major decisions, team leaders must consider five fundamental decision-making questions:

1.    What is the purpose of the decision?  Or, Why is a decision necessary?

2.    What options are possible?

3.    What is the best course of action to achieve the desired outcomes?

4.    Is the course of action achievable?

5.    What is a workable action plan and timetable for implementing the decision?

Patterns of Decision Making
Decisions come in all shapes and sizes, from daily supervisory details to broad team-altering judgments.  Decisions are generally made following one or more basic types of decision actions:

1.    Leader Decisions—One person makes the decision without much input, if any, from the team.

2.    Key Player Decisions—A select group of key team members make the decision.

Both the single leader and key player decision patterns have the advantage of quick and easy implementation.  These types of decisions are good when the decision affects only a portion of the team, when the decision is not something that will affect overall team performance or morale, or when the decision is necessary to avert a crisis.  However, limited input can potentially result in weak team support. 

3.    Majority Decisions—A majority vote leads to a decision.  If the decision to be made is contested by sub groups in the team, a majority vote can potentially lead to friction between team factions.

4.    Unanimous Decisions—After a review of the information, the full team is in agreement.

5.    Consensus Decision—Team members agree to the decision even though they believe a different course of action is preferable.  In a consensus decision, team members agree that they can commit to the decision.