RENOWNED motivation guru Anthony Robbins once said: "It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped."

For this reason, many people are often paralysed by the fear of making the wrong decision, especially when it comes to the weightier ones that have a more serious impact on their lives.

However, the wise words of former US president Theodore Roosevelt resonate louder: "In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

The task of making sound decisions for yourself, your staff or organisation is always a challenge, especially when it affects the professional and personal wellbeing of the said parties.

Here are four styles of decision-making to help you make better decisions:

1. Democratic

The first style of decision-making involves the leader (assumed decision-maker) giving up ownership and control of a decision and allowing the group to vote.

The action to be taken will then be decided by a majority vote. This results in a fairly fast decision and a certain amount of group participation. However, such a style results in a lack of group and personal responsibility.

2. Autocratic

Here, the leader maintains total control and ownership of the decision. He is solely responsible for the positive or negative outcome of the decision.

This is usually the best option in an emergency or crisis situation as decisions are made swiftly.

However, the disadvantages may include declined morale and employee effort if the decision affects an employee who was not included in the decision-making process. The leader may lose his credibility if the outcome of the decision is not positive.

3. Collective-Participative

This type of decision-making is when the leader involves members of the organisation by asking and encouraging them to offer their ideas, perceptions, knowledge and information concerning the decision.

The leader maintains total control of the decision because although information from others is considered, he has the final say. Thus, the leader is also completely responsible for the outcome. While this promotes group participation and involvement, which is good for team morale, this style is fairly slow and time-consuming process.

4. Consensus

In consensus decision-making, the leader relinquishes control of the decision, allowing the group members to take over.

The group, not the leader, is responsible for the outcome. This style differs from democratic decision-making in that everyone must agree and take ownership of the decision.

The style allows for enhanced teamwork and greater group commitment and responsibility. The result has a higher probability of success as many ideas, perspectives and skills are involved in the process. However, of all the four styles, consensus decision-making takes up the most time.

Experience counts

In organisations where the leadership style leans towards collective-participative decision-making, the leader typically consults his managers and departmental heads to assess the various policies and strategies that affect the company before making a decision.

The decision-making process also depends on the leader trusting his instincts and taking into account his years of experience. Hence, he is ultimately responsible and accountable for the result.

Art and science

The decision-making process is both art and science. The founder of Sony, Akio Morita, is a good example of someone whose leadership style is a balance of these disciplines.

When he invented the Walkman over 20 years ago, his engineers and marketing team, who conducted surveys in Japan, believed that the product would flop. But Morita trusted his instincts and went against their advice.

The Walkman became such a resounding success that to this day, it remains one of the biggest and most original breakthroughs for the Japanese conglomerate.