Four Ingredients for Clarifying Decisions

When you are faced with a decision, what gets your attention? Is it the details? Is it the possibilities? Do you weigh out the pros and cons? Are you thinking about how to rally people around the decision? 

Now, get in the room with a group of people and make a decision … together. The struggle that often confuses decisions is that we are each looking at it slightly differently. 

“interactions with others will help [leaders] see more perspectives and possibilities so they can make more informed decisions.”

~Max Yoder, Do Better Work

Every leader has their preferred approach to making decisions. By understanding our personality preferences based on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator we can crack the code on how to clarify our team’s process in deciding together. 

Making decisions to solve problems is influenced by the two middle letters of your Myers Briggs Personality Type (ENFJ = NF; ISTJ = ST). These two letters are known as the mental processes. They help us understand what information gets our attention — Sensing (S) or iNtuition (N). They also help us understand the criteria we use when we are making decisions — Thinking (T) or Feeling (F). 

The recipe for the best decisions includes all four ingredients — Sensing, iNtuition, Thinking and Feeling. The proportions may depend on the type of decision you are making, but the natural flow to these processes is demonstrated in this zig zag model.

Based on your personality type, you are drawn more to the two approaches that are reflected in your preferred mental processes. For the ENFJ, iNtuiting and Feeling are the domains that come naturally. For the ISTJ, Sensing and Thinking are the domains that serve them well.  But, for either of them, finding clarity in making decisions using only their preferences is going to create lopsided conclusions. Leaders must know their tendencies and facilitate decisions that include all four preferences by drawing on others on the team, or seeking outside counsel.

Even when you aren’t making group decisions >> you can pause and intentionally engage those stages of decision making that don’t come naturally. You will be amazed at what aspect of the decision you will notice differently. Your decisions become more informed … and more clear.

What If It’s Still Unclear?

Groups working together can sometimes confuse the decision rather than clarify it. This model helps each individual contribute at their best. However, if the decision is still unclear, leaders get to do the work of discernment and wisdom. Let the group know you need time to think it through and …

1.      Set aside time to discern >> pray about it, think it through, write it out, weigh it out

2.      Seek wise counsel >> not every interaction is from a mentor, a guide, or an advisor. Go to those people who you know have the gift of wisdom and seek input.

3.      Step into the decision >> you have information, input, discernment and wisdom. Make the decision. Communicate your decision. Give support and resources to make it happen. 

Next Steps: Let me know . . . 

What are your two preferred domains in making decisions? How have these domains served you well as a leader? How has hearing from others who have the other two domains as preferences helped you and/or your team in clarifying decisions?

Comment below . . . I would love to hear!

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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