Does your team spend hours debating a decision, collecting input from everyone on the team and considering different viewpoints? Or does direction comes down from the top, like a sudden bolt of lightning? We call these two ends of the decision-making spectrum: Concordant vs. Authoritative.
Just as teams form norms around how they communicate, process information, and work towards their objectives, they also establish patterns for how they make decisions. Both ways of making decisions can be effective — the trick is knowing how to work with each, when it’s appropriate to switch gears.
Identify your team’s decision-making default
A Concordant team prefers a round-table discussion. Decisions are made collectively, with everyone's input taken into account. Imagine you and your friends trying to decide on a movie to watch. You'd discuss, pitch your choices, maybe debate a bit, but in the end, you'd choose a film that most, if not all, agree on. Everyone feels heard, and different viewpoints are incorporated into the final decision.
On the other end of the spectrum is an Authoritative team. This is where decisions are made by one or a few individuals, like a team leader or particularly influential team member. Picture the captain of an airplane – they're in charge and making the decisions. Decisions come quickly, and decision-making processes are streamlined; the team rarely feels a sense of gridlock or paralysis.
👉 Ask yourself a few questions: Can you tell which decision-making mode your team employs? How consistently does it do so? And has this approach changed over time?
Succeed on any team type
As a team, you can succeed as authoritative or concordant decision-makers. As an individual? You need to know how to work with your team’s type.
On a Concordant team, communication is crucial. Strive to express your thoughts succinctly and actively listen to your colleagues. Embrace different perspectives – the best solutions often arise from a mix of diverse ideas! If you’re a manager or leader, recognize that your role is more about facilitating that dialog and synthesizing opinions from your team, rather than making the call. If you’re an individual trying to influence an outcome, your need to invest time in bringing everyone to the same conclusion.
On an Authoritative team, however, trust and respect for the decision-maker's authority are vital. The key is making sure there is always a clear decision-maker (and it’s not always the team’s manager!). Authoritative teams tend to struggle when the chain-of-command is unclear. If you’re working on an authoritative team, don’t hesitate to make strong recommendations (effective decision-makers appreciate constructive input), but also be ready to disagree and commit. Stay engaged and proactive – your contributions can shape better outcomes.
👉 What you can do: Once you know which type of team you’re on, try these strategies the next time you’re faced with a decision. You might surprise yourself with how much it’s appreciated!
Watch for “gotcha” moments
While Concordant and Authoritative teams can both be successful, certain situations call for different decision-making approaches.
If you’re on a Concordant team but a decision needs to be made fast ahead of a looming deadline, or if you’re making a decision with little information (and especially if that decision can be readily reversed), “make the call” yourself by stating a strong recommendation and encourage the group to move forward. It might be uncomfortable, but your team will ultimately appreciate it.
Conversely, consider an Authoritative team faced with a decision that requires long-term commitment, or one where different viewpoints need to be thoroughly considered. Pull the decision-maker aside and encourage them to open the discussion to the whole team; broader commitment, and the integration of new perspectives, will lead to a better outcome.
👉 What you can do: Different scenarios can call for different responses. Don’t be afraid to push your team out of its decision-making comfort zone!