Decision-Making Styles Term Paper

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Decision Making Styles

Leadership is the position of authority in which it is possible to provide guidance or direction through making decisions that will affect other people. There are many methods of decision making, and each individual person has a unique decision making style.

Many different studies have explored the vast and quite possibly infinite numbers of decision making styles that are exhibited by people. One example of such personality studies is the Fielder contingency model, which is a leadership theory that categorized people into relationship-oriented and task-oriented groups. Those who fit into each category are assumed to function best when given tasks that suit their type, and that there is no way that a person of one type can function within the confines of the other. Another leadership model, the path-goal model, was developed by Robert House. House's categories of leadership styles very much focus on the ways in which leaders communicate with others. Directive leadership is a style that offers guidance, supportive leadership shows concern, participative leadership asks for consensus, and achievement oriented leadership demands results. This model shows that the styles are fluid and adaptable to the situation.

One of the most important models of leadership and communication is the Life-Cycle theory from Paul Hershey and Kenneth H. Blanchard. They believe that one's style should depend very much on the circumstances such as the individual behavior and "maturity" of the subordinates. A group of very immature people need a stronger, more controlling leader, those who are moderately mature can participate in democratic decision making, and the most mature of people do not need the explicit leadership of one person. One of the most innovative and helpful categorizations of decision-making styles is the Platinum Rule Personal-Styles of the Four Basic Business Personalities.

The Platinum Rule Styles

The Platinum Rule Styles of decision-making are often utilized in management workshops that seek to increase understanding of how one's self and one's co-workers behave in various workplace situations. Each style has both a vast amount of assets, as well as many weaknesses and growth opportunities. The four basic decision-making styles of the Platinum Rule are relaters, socializers, thinkers, and directors. Each style is explored in terms of behavioral adaptivity, descriptions of the style, and suggestions for adaptability. There are additionally sixteen substyles that more specifically identify each individual's decision making style.

The Relater Style

One who is identified as a member of the relater style group is generally slow at taking action and making decisions, keeping a more slow-paced approach to decision-making. This person would like close, personal relationships with coworkers and would dislike interpersonal conflict of any kind, instead attempting to build strong relationships with as little friction as possible. A relater is a strong source of support for coworkers, someone that can be selfless when faced with another person's problematic situation. Relaters are known as "active" listeners, a trait which helps them to gain support from others, which comes naturally for them. While relaters are weak at goal setting and forming their own self-direction, they work very cohesively with others. The work with others is often slow, but there is a strength in that slow pace as strong bonds are formed. The relater seeks security and belongingness in every group setting, and may appear to want the workplace to feel like "home" to everyone there. All of the traits of the relater gives him or her excellent counseling skills and much potential in that area.

In order to increase behavioral adaptability, there are many changes that relaters generally need to make that may improve their ability to achieve all of their potential. Relaters are not very good at saying "no," even when they are being asked to do something that is not in their best interest or simply not a fair request. Relaters are not generally able to complete tasks without being overly sensitive to the feelings of others, which can be a serious distraction from the tasks at hand. Relaters need to learn how to be respectful but not overly protective of those around them. Relaters enjoy comfort and familiarity, and this is often limiting to them. It would benefit relaters to take some risks and step outside of the boundaries of their known comfort zones. Relaters also need to learn how to delegate to others in addition to listening to them, and to learn how to be able to accept changes that may be necessary in routines and procedures in order to accomplish more. Relaters also need to learn to verbalize their feelings, even though this risks causing some tension or possibly upsetting others. The oversensitivity and fear of conflict that relaters experience are possibly their biggest obstacle.

The Socializer Style

The style of the socializer is quite contrasting in some -- but not all -- ways to the style of the relater. Spontaneous actions and decisions are the preferred method for socializers, who like to make decisions on a whim or impulse to satisfy the urge of the present. The socializer very much likes to be involved in group activities and decisions, and does not like to be alone. Working with others is enjoyable for the socializer. Exaggeration and generalizations are common to the socializer's communication style, but this is not a deceptive act on the part of this person, but rather a way in which he or she can get others in the group excited and involved in the vision. The socializer is a dreamer and likes to get others caught up in that dream. Jumping from one activity to another is a way of life for the socializer, who may appear to have a short attention span, but may in fact be great at multitasking and taking on many challenges at one time. Work with others is perceived as exciting to this category of decision-makers, who work quickly with others and show progress in groups much sooner than the slow, cohesive group work of the relaters. The socializer will seek esteem and acknowledgment for his or her good work, wanting to receive credit for the work he or she did. The socializer is overall great with convincing others to see things in his or her way; the socializer's traits add up to create excellent persuasive skills.

In order to increase their behavioral adaptability, socializers must learn first to control their emotions and not be so manic that they are unable to function. Time is also a big problem for socializers, and learning to manage time properly is an important skill for socializers to learn. Socializers need to develop a more objective mindset in their decision-making processes. Socializers need to spend more time checking and verifying information to confirm accuracy rather than going on a whim with unverified information. Also, being more specific and organized would be a great benefit to socializers who are often too general and disorganized. Socializers need to make sure they follow through on agreements, even if other tasks are calling their attention. Concentrating on the task at hand is difficult for socializers, who often attempt to multitask too much. A logical approach might suit many situations better than the spontaneous decision-making that socializers usually make. Socializers most need to focus on completing the tasks that have been started rather than taking on new projects without seeing the first projects through to the end.

The Thinker Style

The thinker is not nearly as spontaneous as the socializer, but exerts a great deal of caution in the decision-making process. Both actions and decisions are approached as safely as possible, having the attitude that it is better to be safe than sorry. The thinker very much likes organization and structure, and wants for there to be a plan and place for everything. The thinker does not like involvement, but would rather have control over the situation personally and individually. The thinker will ask many questions about specific details to insure that nothing is overlooked or misrepresented. Details are very important and oversimplification of any decision is despised. An objective, task-oriented, intellectual work environment is the most comfortable one for the thinker, who wishes to focus on his or her work very intensely without the distractions that a relater would use to make the environment more comfortable, or the disorganized environment that makes the workplace more exciting for the socializer. Because it is so important to the thinker that he or she be correct about every detail and always to be right in his or her stance on a situation, the thinker will be overly reliant on data collection to make certain that there are facts to back up every opinion. The thinker works more slowly than the socializer and with great precision, but works this way alone, not within a group setting. The thinker's traits create an excellent problem solver, with the skills to intellectually get out of many dilemmas that would post impossible barriers for many others.

Thinkers are generally very cold in appearance towards other people, and learning how to openly…

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