We make choices every day. While we may not utilise particular decision-making styles for each trivial decisions, we will for others.

We will do it for decisions that will have further-reaching consequences, for example, or consequences for people beyond yourself. These situations are the ones that require specific methods for dealing with them.

Everybody has their own particular way of approaching decisions. Knowing your own method will help you to make better choices in life. It will also, in time, help you take on a leadership role if that is what you want.

What Is Decision-Making?

Most people think this is an easy question, but what is decision-making? When you take the different decision-making styles into account, the question becomes a lot more complicated. What is your decision-making process? Is this process different when you are alone versus part of a group?

A rational decision-maker follows four steps:

  1. Identify the problem
  2. Generate multiple possible solutions for the problem
  3. Select the solution deemed most likely to solve the problem
  4. Implement the solution and evaluate its effectiveness

With these four steps in mind, you can move forward into a deeper understanding of your decision-making style. You will also begin to understand what consequences this has.

Decision-Making Styles

Directive decision-makers

The first approach is directive decision-making. People with this style tend to be very methodical. They weigh up all the pros and cons of the situation they find themselves in.

If this is your decision-making style, then you will make decisions based on your own knowledge, experience, and rationale. You will likely rely on yourself, rather than other people.

  • Pro – decisions are made quickly, without too much communication.
  • Con – people can make their decisions too quickly.

When to use directive decision-making

When should you use this particular decision-making style? It works best if you are in a stable environment that has events that happen on a consistent basis. This style suits cause and effect relationships, where everything is clearly defined.

Analytical decision-makers

This decision-making style lives and dies on the information available. If you are an analytical decision-maker, then you will rely on evidence, facts, and your own observations.

So far, this sounds very like the directive decision-maker, but there is one crucial difference. Where directional decision-making is a very individual endeavour, analytical decision-making is not. This decision-making style relies on other people’s opinions and ideas to work.

  • Pro – a well-rounded approach to decision-making
  • Con – takes a lot of time

When to use an analytic decision-making

This approach to making decisions is good for any situation where there might be more than one right answer/solution. The cause and effect relationship so often found where directive decision-making is also found here. It may be that it is not so readily apparent. This decision-making style is useful for exploring your options.

3 questions that will help you choose the right decision-making style

1. Is this a decision to make yourself?

The decision-making styles you use depend greatly on the people around you and what your role is. Directive style is good if you can (or have to) make decisions yourself. Analytical style is good if you have the luxury or need to ask for other people’s opinions.

If you are on the outside of the process looking in, then you may be able to offer some guidance. Only do this if you think that someone is struggling to make a choice because otherwise you might be labelled a troublemaker. If you have been given the right to make this decision, then find the best of the two approaches described above and go for it.

2. Do you have access to the needed relevant information?

When deciding which decision-making style to use, you should consider whether you have all the relevant information. Do you have expertise, data, facts, observations?

Knowing this can help you to decide which style to use. If you have the information or can access it, then use the directive style. If you don’t have the information yourself, but can ask other people, then you can use the analytical style.

The problem, of course, is that both methods of decision-making require you to know your own limits. But we don’t always know if we don’t know something. This is where problems come in. People who are in any way unsure of themselves should always use an analytical decision-making style.

3. To what extent is acceptance necessary for successful implementation?

When figuring out which decision-making method to use, you should always take other people into consideration. Remember that decisions rarely involve just yourself – there are always other people to think of. Analytical styles are, therefore, the best for team situations, as it ensures that everybody has a say and that everybody feels heard.

Another advantage of this is that it means everybody is kept up to speed on what’s going on. When the decision has been made and things are moving, it means that there will be no delay for people to absorb the new information. You will simply be able to get things done.


  1. https://executive.berkeley.edu/
  2. https://www.kent.edu/

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