Diverse Perspectives on Decision Making

Diverse Perspectives on Decision Making

Confident decision-making is a defining quality that sets leaders apart, shaping their careers and paving the path to excellence. In this article we explore the diverse decision styles of 5 exceptional leaders.

The ability to make swift and confident decisions isn't just a skill; it's a defining quality that distinguishes exceptional leaders. Remarkably, decisive individuals are twelve times more likely to be acknowledged as effective CEOs, a correlation highlighted by the Harvard Business Review. While confident decision-making may pose challenges for many, for great leaders, it is often what has forged the path to success in their careers.

 In this article we explore the decision-making approaches of 5 leaders from diverse industries and functions in the UK, all grappling with choices that significantly impact the lives of many on a daily basis.  Having worked closely with each of the leaders interviewed, Dr Amanda Potter CPsychol defines how each of the leader’s unique decision styles adds value to their organisation.

Whether it's the CEO of Eversholt Rail pioneering innovative rail products for the UK market or the Detective Superintendent of the Met Police navigating decisions with life-or-death implications, the interviewed decision-makers are all working to disrupt and deliver impactful change for their organisations.

Catherine: My decision style depends on the nature of the decision. For urgent decisions, I’ll try to be as responsive and decisive as possible based on the information available to me at the time; applying an 80/20 approach if necessary. Other decisions need more deliberation, debate and a broad range of inputs to get to the right answer. When decisions are less time pressured, I try to canvas views while checking my own thinking and biases. Ultimately, I recognise the decision needs to be taken and that my indecision can impact the team’s clarity and morale. Difficult decisions need to be made how uncomfortable that might be.

When I had to step into my first main leadership role after my boss retired, I suffered from impostor syndrome. I was worried I might not be able to deliver the role at all, let alone in the way he had – but then I realised that I could bring something new and positive to the position and shape the role how I saw best.

Our business is predicated on the needs of our clients – so in a professional context, my decision style will always be influenced by what we objectively believe to be in our clients’ best interests.? More broadly than that, I try to stay objective, focused on the facts, keeping my emotions in check, and do what I believe to be right – for our business and all stakeholders.

No decision is almost invariably worse than an imperfect decision – so I would most regret a sense that I had avoided a difficult decision, rather than taking one in good faith which might not have worked out, but from which I could learn.

Graham: I employ an 80/20 decision-making approach, acting when 80% of information is available, assuming an 80% success rate outweighs potential errors. Exceptions arise for high-stakes decisions with significant risks for clients or regulatory risks.

Career-wise, my decision to take on challenges and fix what is ‘broken’, the 'poison chalice' situations have proved most rewarding. I have always worked on the philosophy that you can’t make those situations any worse. The only way is up and therefore the reward for the risk can be very high.

Ordinarily I make data driven decisions; following a relentless search for facts that people can coalesce around and agree. The first point of making a decision is to recognise why one needs to be made!

 In terms of ‘people’ decisions this is often supported by a heavy spoonful of soft data that is more difficult to measure scientifically. What is harder to quantify is the softer side around motivation, drive, tenacity, resilience, positive mental attitude, appetite for change/ the journey.

Decisions are by definition forks in the road, someone might have the skills to take the path we need to go on, but do they actually want to travel that road? That’s more important.

The decisions I regret are always the slow ones. If the decision was right then I wish I had made it quicker, if it was wrong then I wish I had been able to rule that path out quicker. Slow decisions tend to lead to over thinking and over engineering. This creates uncertainty within organisations and teams and generally makes life harder for everyone who is trying to get stuff done.