4 Leadership Decision-Making Styles: Which Is Yours?

As a business leader, you’re faced with big and small decisions every day.

Leadership decision-making styles are all over the board, and it doesn’t help that there is no one-size-fits-all rule when it comes to making good decisions. Everyone has his or her own way of choosing a course of action, based on personality, experience and training or coaching.

Some leaders rely on their gut instincts to make a fast decision. Others prefer to mull it over and consult others for diverse input and support for their decisions. Still others serve as a facilitator, putting decisions into the hands of their team.

Understanding how you typically make decisions and what different styles of decision-making are most effective in a given situation will help you make better decisions.


Autocratic leaders take full control of decision-making, and their word is final. They avoid consulting others because they feel others don’t know as much as they do about the situation. This is an old-school approach to decision-making, but it may be useful in high-stress situations; for example, when an urgent decision must be made quickly and the decision-maker has all the necessary information.


Analytical decision-makers look at the facts, data, and figures to make informed decisions. They “run the numbers,” taking into consideration the big picture and the impact on the entire organization. They look at future implications of the decision. This approach is useful when deciding to make large investments and when the consequences of a bad decision are high, but it can take time to gather numbers, conduct research and meet with advisors. Another drawback of this approach is that the focus on data can obscure the human factor.


Leaders who practice the behavioral style of decision-making are empathetic and often have high emotional intelligence. They rely on instinct and past experiences to inform their decision-making process, but they also prioritize relationships with their team. They are considerate of the impact their decision has on others and communicate this clearly, so everyone in the organization feels recognized. This decision-making style fosters a collaborative, harmonious business culture, and is useful in making decisions that are relevant to everyone in an organization and don’t require a specific expertise or knowledge.


Conceptual decision-makers are visionary thinkers and focus almost exclusively on the big picture. They work as facilitators, leading their team to brainstorm possibilities and arrive at consensus. This approach is useful in making long-term decisions about the direction of a business or tackling thorny problems where the solution isn’t obvious. It’s not an effective approach when immediate decisions are required or to address day-to-day operations.

These are just four of the many decision-making approaches leaders have. The key takeaway for today is that effective leaders have  a mix of decision-making approaches in their toolbox, because each will work better in certain situations.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

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