Decision Outliers -Their Impact on Team and Organizational Effectiveness

Beth Miller |

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, many of the stories focus on those outliers1 who were successful, often due to circumstances and luck. However, what if you have an outlying preference that holds you back? Unlike the examples of success in the book, many outlying behaviors can be a disadvantage to an individual. Do you have one of these behaviors that if modified, would move you closer to the norm and make you a more effective leader?

Let’s take a look at some Decision Outlier behaviors. We’ve all experienced someone who either makes decisions too quickly or too slowly, and for some of us we actually may have one of these tendencies ourselves.

Some of us are make decisions quickly, while others take a much longer time in the decision-making process. In either case, our personality preferences and past experiences have a strong influence on how we make decisions. If we tend to be an outlier on either side of the traditional bell curve, decision-making can be holding us back from being successful and getting to the next level of leadership. Do you know if you are a decision outlier? And if you are a decision outlier, how is your decision-making style impacting your relationships and job performance?

Slow Decision Outliers
Those who are slow decision-makers often need a lot more data and information than others, before making a decision. Making a decision without all the data creates too much risk for the slow decision outlier. The data they need can come in the form of hard and soft data. Hard data includes metrics, facts, and measurements; whereas soft data incorporates feelings and the impact a decision will have on others. Slow decision-makers, who are driven by how others will feel about the decision, desire and look for a consensus decision-making process. They want to have everyone in agreement before making a decision.

And in the extreme, slow decision outliers can become no decision
outliers, stuck in the decision-making process and often unwilling to make a decision based on fear of change and letting go of what is known and fully understood.

How Does Slow Decision-Making Impact You and Your Performance?
In this rapidly changing world, slow decision-makers can be at a huge disadvantage. New information is coming at them faster than ever before, and without self-imposed time limits opportunities will pass them by, both personally and professionally. If they are working in a team environment, they are probably frustrating their team members who want to move forward with the project.

If you consistently meet the description above, then here are some tips to move out of the outlier range of decision-making.

  1. Thoroughly explore all the benefits of making a decision which would create change.
  2. Realize that not making a decision brings its own set of risks. Identify the risks of maintaining the status quo.
  3. If it is change that is holding you back, what are the impacts to you if you don’t change? Learn to identify what will provide you with an increase in control during the change process or what will help you to maintain control.

Fast Decision Outliers
Fast decision outliers can find themselves making decisions with not enough data. These decision makers don’t like lots of detail and are often driven by the end result. If the decision is about something that doesn’t have a big impact on them, they feel the details just get in their way. While change is not stressful for them, they often are oblivious of the impact that change has to others around them. Fast decision outliers can sometimes be viewed as autocratic if they aren’t willing to listen to others’ ideas and information that would be helpful to the overall decision-making process.

How Does Fast Decision-Making Impact You and Your Performance?
Fast decision makers run a higher risk of making poor decisions with a high impact to both the organization and the people within the organization. Since change is their friend, they may be creating stress for team members who don’t embrace change. As they strive to complete a project, they may shut other team members out of the decision-making process, thereby limiting innovation and creativity.

Here are some tips to slow down the decision-making process:

  1. Determine up front all the data needed for a quality decision and get agreement from all team members.
  2. Assign the data lovers (i.e. slow decision-makers) to gather the data.
  3. Ask more questions of all team members.
  4. When asking slow decision makers’ questions, inquire about how they feel regarding the project’s process and progress.

Are You a Decision Outlier? If Yes, What Changes Can You Make to Become a More Effective Leader?
So for those of you who are outliers in your decision-making process, when should you consider adjusting and adapting your decision-making preferences and move into the mainstream? When the decisions being made are having a direct impact on someone’s job, including your own!

As a final test of your decision-making process, ask your friends and family how your own decision-making impacts them. If there is little or no response about being a decision outlier, then you can be confident that you possess an effective decision-making process!

Image Credit: The Stock Exchange (www.sxc.hu) User: darktaco

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Beth Miller

Beth Miller

Beth Armknecht Miller’s passion for learning, and dedication to helping others, are strands woven throughout her distinguished career, which continue to guide her work with Executive Velocity, a top talent and leadership development advisory firm. As a trusted executive consultant, Vistage Chair, and committed volunteer, Beth holds herself to a rigorous standard of excellence, and she encourages her clients to do the same when pursuing their goals.

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