Of the many decision rules employed by teams and leaders, the common set is fairly tight and highly distinctive.
The shortlist goes like this:
Unilateral (also known as autocratic): The leader or a subject-matter expert gathers information and makes the decision.
Unilateral in Consultation with Others: Leaders seek the counsel and views of others and weigh them heavily before deciding.
Majority Rules: The group discusses the decision and then votes by preference.
Consensus: It is an idea that is often confused with agreement, which it is not. Decisions are reached when everyone is in support of the idea — or at least can live with it.
Near Consensus: A team gets as close to consensus as it can, and then decides when there are only one or two team members who disagree or say they don’t feel good about the decision.
It should come as no surprise that this last decision rule, which has wormed its way into much of the contemporary team mindset, is highly employed, takes oodles of time, and is often painful for team members or the leader in reaching a final decision.
What is the best decision rule? The clear answer is that each of the decision rules has its advantages and disadvantages. There is no best or more effective decision rule. Each has its place and time.
The critical question to ask and answer is: Which decision rule do we implicitly use? Overwhelmingly, leaders and teams don’t discuss or agree as to what decision rule is in place. Most leaders and teams operate fluidly, without much thought as to why. Deciding on which decision rule the team or leader will operate from, generally or in a given circumstance, is the essential first question to ask and answer in order to make quality decisions.
Great leaders do not operate implicitly when it comes to decision rules. They decide and inform everyone about the decision rule BEFORE any discussion or choice is required.
PS: One additional note - Tomorrow, Tuesday, October 12, we are holding our Admired Leadership Community Conference. The morning sessions are free and open to anyone interested in becoming a better leader. Find out more here. We’d love to have you join us!