8.1 Overview of Decision-Making

Leaders, such as CEOs of large multi-national corporations, small-business owners, and administrators inside institutions of higher learning, must make decisions daily that have an effect on the organization. Decision-making is the action of thinking through a process and coming to a consensus, either personal, or collaborative, and following through with that action. One of the key variables in decision-making within an organization are the stakeholders, who are the individuals or groups who are affected by the organization (i.e. employees, vendors, customers, and shareholders)[1].

One thing to be aware of as a leader within an organization is that decision-making is a process.  Processing decisions can help to make the right decision relevant for the problem that is presented, if leaders are too rash in their decision-making, it could render negative consequences. For example, if productivity is low within the administration or organization, and the first action is to fire everyone in the office, that is a rash decision that hinders the individuals and the company as a whole. Here is an effective five-step process to effective decision making[2].

Step three offers an interesting look in the decision-making process, and an ethical dilemma can be presented at this time. One of the main things managers have a difficult time understanding is the difference between making the correct decision and making the ethical decision. When managers or leaders make decisions, it usually does not fall on the yes or no binary, nor is there one correct answer.  This brings in the issue of making the best decision out of a set of good options, or minimizing harm though a set of bad options. This is where ethical decision making comes into play.  As managers, all make impactful decisions during the day, month, or year within an organization.  Managers we must take into account how their decisions affect their stakeholders[3]. Therefore, the execution of ethical action in decision making should be the overarching method of decision-making.

The Right Correct Answer The Right Ethical Answer
•Finding the best answer out of a set of options
•Often the correct answer does not apply to everyone.
•Sometimes it is not clear what the best answer is.
•Finding the best positive impact in the answers.
•Being cognizant that the answer will have an effect on the organization.
•Through strong ethical consideration, a viable choice may emerge.

Next, the focus on some of the decision-making styles that are found within organizations will be discussed. There will be decision-making exercises, so remain cognizant of the ethical implications and how decisions affect stakeholders within the organization.

Review Questions:

  1. What is the definition of decision-making? Who  are stakeholders?
  2. What are the five steps of the decision-making process?
  3. What is the difference between the right answer and the ethical answer?


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Leadership and Management in Learning Organizations Copyright © by Clayton Smith; Carson Babich; and Mark Lubrick is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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