September 2, 2005
Vol. 2, No. 35

Published Weekly on Fridays
By Leadership University

A Note from the Founder – Mike R. Jay, Master
Business Coach

Leadership & Decision-Making

I want to apologize to the person who contributed
significantly to this material and I can’t
remember who and where I got this from, but it’s
an excellent summary of decision-making models to
which I’ve adapted many of my own ideas including
the authoritarian, or what some now call the
‘visionary’ model of decision-making.

The interesting aspect of these models is that all
of them are appropriate at certain times and in
certain situations. It’s clear to me, after
reviewing my own decision-making models, that
leaders prefer some over others. We often don’t
take the time to evaluate what decision model we
are using and whether or not, it’s best suited to
the context, or conditions.

Here are some brief ideas about decision-making

Authoritarian Model: Information and authority
reside with the authority in charge, either by
proxy or by ownership. This decision-making model
has been found through research to be the most
effective model in regards to creating positive
climate—much to the surprise of most I’m sure.
[Leadership That Gets Results, Goleman, HBR 2000]

Method: Actively seeks contributions from others,
considers the feedback and ideas, then makes a
decision that binds the groups actions.

Concerns: The vision may be the wrong vision and
the authoritarian leader may thin-slice reality
and not get sufficient feedback.


Contributive or Affiliative Model: Information and
authority reside with the leader and those who
will implement the decision. Appropriate when a
small number of individuals will carry out the
work for the whole.

Method: In contributive decision-making, a leader
and key implementers receive input and suggestions
from all members of the group, but ultimately, the
small group decides the direction to take.
Contributive decision-making is similar to the
Consensus model but narrows the actually
decision-making body to those who will complete
work associated with the decision. It also assumes
equality among peers, such as in a professional

Concerns: The contributive decision-making method
requires explanation and practice before most
groups become comfortable with it.


Participative Model: Team members have information
related to the decision. Authority resides with
the leader, but because of the need for
participation and buy-in by partners in the
decision-making, the leader calls the decision.
Appropriate when the leader is required to
represent a decision but needs input and
permission from others.

Method: In the participative model, the leader
represents the decision after receiving
information and suggestions from other group

Concerns: While the leader receives input from
others, implementers may disagree with the
decision called by the leader. There may be a lack
of group responsibility.


Coercive or Commanding Model: Information and
authority reside ONLY with the leader. Appropriate
when the leader alone has knowledge related to the
decision or when time is critical, situation

Method: The leader controls the decision without
input or suggestions from others and holds
personal responsibility for the outcome.

Concerns: This model is non-participative. Others
in the organization may not support the decision,
but may have no choice with a lack of group
responsibility for outcomes.


Democratic Model: Information and authority reside
with the leaders and all group members.
Appropriate when all group members have knowledge
about the decision and formality required.

Method: The leader shares control of the decision
by allowing the group to vote. The outcome is
decided by majority wins.

Concerns: Those who disagree with the decision may
undermine efforts to implement it, especially if
the decision was close.


Consensus Model: Information and authority resides
with the leader and all group members. Appropriate
when participation from all group members is
important and the decision will impact the group
as a whole, where mutual responsibility and
accountability is the same for all stakeholders.

Method: Everyone in the group needs to agree and
make a decision together.

Concerns: Has the potential to be very slow or to
hold a group hostage if group members fail to

From the desk of Mike R. Jay, Master Business Coach

P.S.  Please visit my blog  to comment on this
and other articles about leadership.

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