What are the 4 Decision Making Styles Leaders Can Take to Make a Decision?

Effective decision making is not everyone’s piece of cake. That’s why a leader is supposed to carry out the responsibility of making a decision. When leaders make a decision, they consider numerous factors before they take one. These factors can be social, economic and psychological. They can all influence a person’s decision making styles process. Since we all human beings differ from each other, our perceptions, our thinking process, our personal believes and our internal/external stimuli, it all works differently. Scientists have agreed that most individuals fall into one of the four basic categories of decision making. These categories are directive, consultative, conceptual and consensus. 

What are they and how do they influence different personalities? Let’s do some digging and find out. 


A directive decision making style is basically an art adopted by the autocratic leaders in our society. Autocratic leaders are authoritative in nature and the person in charge in such a leadership style makes his own decisions based on the knowledge and experience he holds. Decisions made by an autocratic leader are more directive in nature and those who use such a directive style of decision making are quite rational. They have a low tolerance for ambiguity and make sure it is imposed. 

For example, imagine you’re a digital marketing manager with an ample amount of experience in the digital world. The holiday season is just around the corner and your teams aren’t moving in the right direction. With your experience and knowledge, you take the charge and order your digital crews to work on your idea of running a holiday discount campaign. In fact, you take ownership and do it. And while you are there, you make sure that every employee working under you is focused on doing it. 

Such decision making styles where you take the authority in your hands is directive in nature. 


It is a specific decision-making style, where one takes the action based on the consultation of other sub-ordinates working with him within the team. It is a very favored decision-making style as it allows different individuals to share their feedback before a decision is made. Such decision-making does not hold a leader liable for the decision made. It is a compound decision taken by everyone altogether. 

Former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell tells his story that he was compelled to make a decision that cost him and his team just about everything. Luttrell and his crew captured a known al-Qaeda leader and two unarmed goat herders from the Hindu Kush mountain range and their job was to kill them. The SEALs had to make a tough decision whether they should take out the herders as well or let them go. So, Luttrell gathered his team and consulted them; they finally decided to let the herders go because they were innocent. Even though these herders could’ve gone back and informed, they took the risk. 


Now, this is a decision making style that is completely opposite of the directive decision making style. Here, the person who is about to make the decision usually takes a more subtle and serene approach.  The leaders who are used to the conceptual decision making style do not shy away from tough decisions. They have a clear conceptual mind and whatever decision they make is based on data. It is a well-informed & well-researched decision, the chance of error in such decision making is fairly low. 

For example, once Singapore was recognized as an indepedent state, it took the decision of undergoing a heavy industrialization process. At the time when the decision was being made, the risk of making such a decision was relatively high and the success ratio was significantly low. Despite that, the government of Singapore made a conceptual decision to choose a vision that goes long. 


A consensus decision making style is one such where a single leader is never held accountable for the decision taken. As the name suggests, it is a decision making style where a group debates the issue and then reaches to a conclusion together. Here every member or individual is encouraged to give voice to their opinion and deliver their say in what they believe is right or wrong. 

It isn’t necessary that in a consensus styled leadership, everyone is supposed to agree with the idea. However, it is important that they do put their personal views aside and support the group decision.  

Every business has a leader. And every leader upholds the responsibility of decision making. Almost every business requires leaders who are strong and can make worthy decisions. However, not every leader is capable to fit in every environment. For a leader to be strong, it is important that he or she may understand the environment in which they are working first. And then, based on that particular environment, it becomes their responsibility to adapt a particular decision making styles. 

What kind of a leader are you? Learn about your leadership style and adapt the correct decision making accordingly.  

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