I’m always surprised how long it takes for some people to make decisions.  Now me,  I listen, solicit others' opinions, determine the level of emotion behind the decision, check in with my intuition and then make a call.  Well, sometimes this isn’t the best  approach and it challenges  people who are much more thoughtful, thorough in analyzing the data and studying the impacts of decisions.  The “ah-ha” is that both styles are needed. However, different approaches on a team can create some tension and even conflict at times.

There has been quite a bit of research regarding the way people approach decision-making.  I like the categories developed by Harvey F. Silver and J. Robert Hanson a number of years ago.  They suggest that individuals have certain decision-making styles that they use and prefer, although circumstances often modify their “go-to-approach”.  Here are some summary definitions by Silver and Hanson:

Sequential:  Sequential decision-makers need lots of specific information and details. They want to know the steps and process needed to get the end result, and desire a clear description of the outcomes.  They want the data behind all options.

Logical:  These decision-makers also want specifics, but want the reasons and all defensible positions.  They tend to weigh and balance choices against one another.  They use objective judgment to make decisions, not their feelings.

Global: Global decision-makers want to explore and imagine all the possibilities.  They want to know how a decision fits within the context of all possibilities.  They want to explore the many options and aren’t restrained by data.  They want to know what is good for everyone.

Personable: These decision-makers want everyone to share and weigh in with their experiences before reaching a decision.  They want the decision-making process to be collegial, cooperative and sensitive to the needs of individuals.

Do you recognize your own preferred style and the styles of some of your Board and leadership team members?  The important thing to remember is that no one style is better or worse than the other.  But here are three tips to help you manage the differences in discussions.

1.      Remember: The sum really is greater than any one part. So listen, honor and recognize that often the best result comes from allowing everyone to approach it their own way.  That means lighten up and approach without frustration, impatience, or stalling the discussion.

2.      Create a set of decision criteria that everyone can agree with.  This framework can describe the scenarios for when you can make a quick decision based on simple discussion, and when you need more thorough analysis and data.   This allows for all styles to shine, at different times.

3.      Take a break when there is an impasse or ‘locked jury’. Do something fun to lessen the stress and facilitate camaraderie and sense of team.  After all people really just want what is best for the organization, and there is more than one way to skin the cat.


If you and your staff, or Board members are interested in learning about the specific decision styles of the individuals in your group, HCollaborative offers an informative 90-minute workshop around principles of decision-making.  It includes a quiz to help identify the individual decision styles of each individual team member.  For detail, email: Maryanne@hcollaborative.com or call 503-708-9239