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Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe...Why Leaders Struggle to Decide

by Kathy Cooperman

Since childhood, I’ve often found myself struggling to choose between equally attractive alternatives. Just this week, I had to smile when my four-year-old granddaughter couldn’t decide which colors she preferred. She immediately began reciting, “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe . . . catch a tiger by the toe”. What a simple way to solve the endless back and forth!

Decision-Making Styles

Over the years working with leaders, I’ve observed four basic styles of decision-making:

1. Get ‘er done!
- This leader is very quick to make a decision. Not wanting to waste time, they can make a decision on the spot and be ready to move on to the next concern.
- The value this type of leader brings to a team is their ability to take action in emergency situations or when there are multiple demands on their time.
- The drawback is that they can sometimes move so fast that they don’t consider potential consequences for their decisions until it’s too late.

2. Make everybody happy!

- This leader, too, is a quick decision-maker but also is concerned with how everyone feels about the decision. They focus more on the people than on the task.
- The value they bring is the effect on morale. They focus on the people and are likely to invite everyone’s opinion about the decision before they make the final choice.
- The drawback is that it’s nearly impossible to please everyone. The effective leader knows to ask for input (when appropriate) but moves forward in situations where others’ input isn’t practical or necessary for the final outcome.

3. Let me think about it!
- This leader likes harmony on the team. They try to understand everyone’s point of view and can be equally persuaded by opposing sides.
- The value they bring is their cautiousness. They aren’t quick to change positions on an issue without careful thought and understanding of how it improves the status quo.
- The drawback is that they are often seen as wishy-washy and can’t seem to make a decision.

4. It has to be perfect!

- This leader is truly a perfectionist. In all aspects of their work, they insist on taking ample time to make a flawless decision.
- The value they bring to the team is a high-quality decision.
- The drawback, though, is the unrealistic amount of time they take in getting to a decision. They embody the “paralysis by analysis” phrase.
When making your next big decision, carefully consider:
- How much time do I have to make a final choice?
- Whose opinions are critical for success?
- Who are my stakeholders?

Seek their input, listen with an open mind and then decide which option is the best from all the alternatives you’ve considered.

“Eeny, meeny, miny, moe . . .” works great for kids on the playground—it seems fair, unbiased and efficient.
Although it’s tempting to use it in the workplace, you’ll want to show a more sophisticated approach to your decision-making process.

Kathy Cooperman, an executive coach and leadership expert, is the president and founder of KC Leadership Consulting LLC. For more information, contact her at kathy@kathycooperman.com, www.kathycooperman.com or 1 (866) 303-1996 or 303-522-2114.

Submitted 1 years 31 days ago
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