6 decision making strategies for effective leaders

6 decision making strategies for effective leaders

Lack of clarity about decision making is the dominant cause of mistrust and low productivity.  You can increase trust by being clear about who makes the decision and by understanding that there are different decision-making styles, all of which are okay. 

Effective decision-making is a crucial skill in both our personal and professional lives. While many of us may be accustomed to making decisions through consensus or consultation, there is a lesser-known approach that can significantly enhance your decision-making prowess.

In this post, we will explore 6 decision making strategies to ensure your decisions are not only made confidently but also understood and accepted by others.

1. The Art of Unilateral Decision-Making

Unilateral decision-making involves taking the initiative to make a decision independently, without the need for a lengthy consensus-building process or relying heavily on the opinions of others. It’s a method that can streamline the decision-making process, save time, and allow for a more assertive and confident approach.

Here are some key benefits of making unilateral decisions:

  1. Efficiency: Unilateral decisions eliminate the need for extensive discussions and debates. This can be especially valuable in time-sensitive situations, enabling you to act swiftly.
  2. Accountability: When you make a unilateral decision, you take full responsibility for it. This accountability can lead to a more focused and determined approach to executing the decision.
  3. Leadership: Unilateral decisions showcase your leadership and decision-making capabilities. They demonstrate your ability to take charge and make tough calls when necessary.

Paraphrasing for Clarity

How to listen better by parroting and paraphrasing

While unilateral decision-making can be a powerful approach, it’s equally important to ensure that your decisions are clearly communicated to others. One effective technique for achieving this clarity is by paraphrasing.

Paraphrasing involves rephrasing your decision or key points in a way that makes them easily digestible and understandable to others. It helps ensure that your message is not only heard but also comprehended. Here’s how to do it effectively:

  1. Summarize Your Decision: After making a unilateral decision, briefly summarize the key points, reasons behind your choice, and the expected outcomes. This concise summary can serve as a reference point for others.
  2. Use Simple Language: Avoid jargon or complex language that may confuse your audience. Keep your message straightforward and accessible to a wide range of individuals.
  3. Invite Questions: Encourage others to ask questions or seek clarification if needed. Open communication channels promote a better understanding of your decision.
  4. Highlight the Benefits: Clearly articulate how the decision benefits the team, organization, or stakeholders. This can help garner support and enthusiasm for your choice.
  5. Follow Up: After announcing your decision, follow up with periodic updates to ensure everyone is on the same page. This reinforces your commitment to transparency and communication.

2. Seek Council from select employees

While the concept of unilateral decision-making is powerful, it’s important to recognize that it doesn’t mean you should always operate in isolation. Seeking counsel and input from others can complement this approach and enhance the quality of your decisions.

There are situations where the expertise and perspectives of others can provide valuable insights, broaden your understanding, and mitigate blind spots. The key is to strike a balance between autonomy and collaboration.

Consider involving relevant stakeholders or seeking advice from trusted colleagues. This not only enriches your decision-making process but also fosters a collaborative environment where everyone feels valued and heard.

Remember that unilateral decision-making isn’t about exclusion; it’s about taking the lead when necessary while remaining open to the wisdom of collective knowledge when it can add value to the decision-making process.

3. Describe the problem, ask for input, and decide

When a problem arises, analyze the issue at hand, and actively seek input, suggestions, and recommendations from those involved or affected by the decision. But remember, the leader makes the final decision.

This collaborative aspect of the process ensures that I harness the diverse knowledge and perspectives ultimately leading to more well-informed and thoughtful decisions. By fostering an environment where input is encouraged this results in better outcomes for all involved parties.

4. Accept a majority decision even if you are outvoted

Accept a majority decision even if you are outvoted

When faced with important choices within a group or team, it’s essential to promote open discussion. To achieve this, make it clear from the start that you will accept a majority decision, even if it means your outvoted.

This decision-making strategy involves relinquishing any veto power you may have had, and creates a level playing field where everyone’s opinions are valued equally.

This strategy fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for the problem among all team members.

5. Majority decides after receiving everyone’s input

This strategy is about consensus, meaning that everyone agrees that the decision is reasonable, following a thorough discussion that includes everyone’s input.  Again, no veto power is used.

6. Delegate the decision

You may also solve a problem by delegating the problem to a trusted employee. This last strategy may seem to be the easiest way to solve a problem, but it’s far from perfect.

This will require clear communication and regular follow up to ensure the problems takes the right course.


Each of these six styles carries both positive and negative consequences.  The best managers learn to use them all, and overuse of any one these can be disastrous! 

Your effectiveness increases when you have clarity within yourself about which style is best for any given situation and which style is best for your employees.

This article was adapted by Walking the Empowerment Tightrope by Robert P. Crosby

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