Your decision making style is a function of your experiences, perceptions, and thinking habits, combined with your level of focus in the three dimensions of thought, that is, whether you lead with your head, heart, or hand.
In my article on employee motivators, I stated that every decision we make comes from our experiences, because our experiences influence our beliefs, and the more we experience something, the greater the intensity of our beliefs.
The way we make our decisions has a similar sequence. Like a river that logically flows, our thinking habits start from our experiences, which lead to perceptions based on patterns we believe affect outcomes, which influence our decision making style.
Imagine a scenario where there are three purists, an individual who is logical and leads with the head, another who is practical and leads with the hand, and a third who is empathetic and leads with the heart; each has a different decision making style.
Their manager sets a piece of equipment and a set of instructions in front of the three employees. The logical person wants to read the instructions to ensure that they don’t miss a step, the practical person deems this equipment is not unlike others, and wants to get it set up first. The two argue. Finally, the empathetic person asks, why can’t you two just get along?
Fortunately, none of us makes decisions purely from one dimension of thought or have a purist decision making style. We each possess some level of intuition in each of the three areas, as well as our unique set of biases that arise from our individual experiences.
Now, consider our business decision-making.
- How often do we experience a similar scenario because our styles are different?
- What impact does it have on collaborative decision-making?
If we can identify our unique patterns, and more important, the source of these decision making steps, think how much potential we have to improve our group decision-making efforts.
Values Determine Decision Making Style
We are all different with very unique patterns of thinking, which led psychologists to study value structures; the thinking map we use to reach our conclusions.
As a point of clarification, we often confuse value with values. We value to arrive at values.
- Values are specific items that people stand for, believe in, or deem important.
- To value is to think, to assign meaning and richness of properties to something.
If your “values” represent the end of a journey, then ”what you value” signifies your choices on the journey.
Imagine having insights into your thinking map as well as those with whom you work, knowing each person’s unique combination of strengths and weaknesses and some indication of their individual biases.
For example, one leadership team found that they were continually coming up with good ideas, but found that they had a problem implementing any of these proposals.
After learning their value structures, they realized that they were all strong logical thinkers, but none of their team was a strong practical person who got things done. This knowledge led them to add a practical and an empathetic thinker on the leadership team to balance their overall business decision making style.
Value Structures and The Attribute Index
The tool that assisted this leadership team to discover each of their thinking maps was the Attribute-Index, an individual assessment that applies the science of axiology to determine their thinking maps, or value structures.
This knowledge enabled team members to take into consideration each other’s preferences, and more importantly, to leverage and apply everyone’s unique strengths as appropriate. In turn, their increased awareness helped them understand each other better and improved overall team interaction.
The same increased understanding can help you as well. Imagine having the same insights and the competitive for your team.
Tom Crea is a leadership expert, decorated career Army Officer, and Blackhawk Helicopter pilot. Because of his proven skills, he was hand selected to run the Army’s leadership development program at two Boston colleges, where he and his team transformed college students into combat leaders.
Tom has a B.S. & M.C.S. in Computer Science and a M.A. in Political Science and loves coaching basketball and spending time with his wife and two boys.
Creating a Culture:
Tom’s proudest leadership moment came when his unit was called to war in Iraq after he had rotated out. His replacement was not able to perform, so members he developed stepped up to lead; they attribute their success to the leadership Tom instilled in each of them. Today, the Blackhawk leadership way.