How To Use Four Types Of Decisions To Align Your Team

AdVance Leadership » How To Use Four Types Of Decisions To Align Your Team

Welcome to Friday 411, issue #061. In 4 minutes, with 1 insight and 1 action, you’ll learn how to increase alignment around decisions.

1 Insight

There are four types of decisions that you make as a leader. Helping your team understand the four types will increase their buy-in.

As a leader, you have to make thousands of decisions. Sometimes you need to involve your team in those decisions. Other times you need to make the decisions by yourself. Either way, you want your team to buy into those decisions and to align their actions. If team members aren’t clear on their roles in the decision-making process, it creates frustration and misalignment.

Foundation: The Difference Between a Voice and a Vote

In order for you and your team to make better decisions, clarify who gets a “voice” and who gets a “vote.”

  • Voice – some decisions require that you get input from your team. You want them to share their thoughts and feelings to inform the decision that you will make.
  • Vote – some decisions require that your team select their choices. They have a say-so in what is decided.

Four Types of Decisions

In order to drive alignment in a decision, help your team understand the 4 types of decisions leaders must make.

Type 1: Closed Decisions: Your team has no voice and no vote.

In this first type of decision, you alone make the decision. Your team does not have the opportunity to express their opinions. They are responsible to do exactly what you have decided.

When we teach this type of decision-making in our Unleashed Leadership trainings, people often respond, “This sounds like a dictator.” If Closed Decisions are the only type of decisions you make, you are a dictator.

But sometimes this type of decision is necessary. There may be new policies or laws that need to be followed. Or you might need to make a fast decision that you don’t have time to discuss with your team.

If your team has a high degree of trust in you, they can accept some Closed Decisions.

Type 2: Consultative Decisions: Your team has a voice but not a vote.

In a Consultative Decision, you alone are the decision maker. But you get insights from your team to help you make the decision. You listen to the thoughts and opinions of your team, and those influence the final decision that you make.


Type 3: Consensus Decisions: your team has a voice and a vote.

In this decision, the team decides together. Each person can share their opinions. Those opinions can influence other people’s thoughts.

After discussion, everyone gets to vote on their choice, and each vote counts equally. Even though you are the leader of the team, your vote carries the same weight as every other person.

This type of decision is slightly more complicated than the others. Before the decision takes place, you need to establish what percentage of people need to vote for something in order to move forward. For example, if you have five people on the team, do you need four of you to agree to move forward? Or do you only need three?


Type 4: Unanimous Decisions: your team has a voice and a vote. And you must all agree.

Before we describe this one, let us be blunt: this is rarely a good way for leaders to make decisions.

You may be asking: If it’s not a good type of decision, why mention it? We’re including it because we often see leaders use Unanimous Decision Making. In other words, it does exist as a type of decision…even if we believe that it’s not as effective.

We don’t like Unanimous Decisions for three reasons:

  1. It doesn’t start with “C.”
    We love alliteration, and all the other types of decisions start with C.
  2. It promotes peer pressure.
    When everyone must agree, the “majority” unintentionally pressures the dissenting members. Rather than feeling like their opinions are valued, dissenting members feel dishonored and manipulated.
  3. It stagnates progress.
    When you force unanimity, you slow down the decision-making process. Sometimes, as a leader, you have to make decisions that some people on your team don’t agree with. If you wait for everyone to agree, you’ll miss opportunities.

When To Decide the Type of Decision

Decide what type of decision it is before the decision must be made. Then declare to your team what type of decision it is. It might sound something like this:

“Hey Team! We’re hiring a new Office Manager who will report to me. We’ve narrowed it down to the top two candidates. I’d like each of you to spend time with these candidates next week when they come in to interview. Then, on Friday, we’ll meet to discuss your opinions on each one. This is a Consultative Decision. I haven’t made up my mind about them, and your opinions are important to me. But it’s ultimately my choice who we hire.”

Or it could sound like this:

“Team, we need to decide on the dates of our offsite Strategy Meeting. I know that we’ve all got a lot on our calendars, but we need everyone there. This will be a Consensus Decision so that we can find the best option. There are 10 of us on this team. Seven of us have to agree on a date to move forward.”

You have to make important decisions with your team every day. Make sure you utilize the four types of decisions to drive buy-in and alignment.

For more information on how to make decision, check out our previous article: The Six Chapters to Make Great Decisions with Your Team.

1 Action

Before you make another decision, decide what type of decision it is and declare it to your team.


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