Leaders make decisions. Those who don’t, aren’t leading. People look to a leader to make the decisions, no matter how hard.

How a leader makes decisions tends to fall into one of the following four broad categories:

  1. The controller: the person who makes the decisions with no consultation or collaborative effort. They fear that if they don’t, they will be seen as impotent.
  2. The pleaser: the person who makes decisions for the people they want to appease. They are motivated by affirmation from the people they care about the most.
  3. The procrastinator: the person who struggles to make a decision because they fear they may get it wrong, that their decision will have negative impact on people they care about.
  4. The consultor: the person who seeks the opinion of a wide range of people before they make a decision.

We are all the product of our life experiences. In particular, our childhood experiences shape our identity, and consequently, how we approach decision-making.

I know I innately fall into the second category, the pleaser. I can’t pin-point what it was in my upbringing, but I know I have a tendency to make decisions that favour the people I want to receive affirmation from. I want to please the people I like and want to like me. This approach feeds my ego, makes me feel valued, a person of worth.

I know that being a pleaser is my weakness when it comes to decision making. Being a pleaser ultimately doesn’t benefit the organisation I am employed to serve, it serves only my interests.

Research has shown that trust is grown when I make consultative decisions, so I have to work just that little bit harder to ensure I put my ego aside and use processes counter to my nature.

Have you ever had the experience of a decision being made that has a significant impact on your work and you weren’t consulted? It leaves you feeling angry, confused, undervalued, and ultimately, it undermines the confidence and trust you have in the leader.

Those leaders who engage a consultative or collaborative approach to decision-making build a culture of trust. When a leader promotes a culture of trust and the following tends of occur:

  • positions do not matter, contribution does;
  • people are willing to be vulnerable and share ideas because there are high levels of respect;
  • empathy is exercised and everyone feels valued and their views and diverse needs are heard;
  • people’s individual strengths are appreciated and capitalised to create a cohesive team;
  • an absence of a fear of judgement prevails, regardless of the validity of the idea or contribution; and,

as a result, people are more inclined to put in the extra effort that is needed to achieve the vision.

Which of the four categories of decision-maker do you fall into: the controller, pleaser, procrastinator or the consulter? Why? What is holding you back from moving to a place where the decision-making is shared, building greater levels of trust? When it comes to make decisions I have learned that it isn’t all about me.