How decision-making styles affect your team?

31 Aug 2021 | News

The impact of decision-making styles is a critical element on culturally diverse teams. How leaders in safety approach decision-making is different for everyone. This, of course, comes from your background; your nationalities, how you were brought up, your education, your expertise that has evolved; and these are influenced by personal values and beliefs that we hold.

Decision-Making Style

It is important for safety leaders to focus on the causal factors of ‘people‘ and ‘the actions they choose to take‘ linked with worker safety. Earlier in the twentieth century, some researchers helped with the description of this. Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud helped with the term psychoanalysis, which allows one to measure their personalities, which Jung and Froyd have termed psychometric assessments.

The decision-making inventory styles model, created by two researchers, who advanced Carl Jung’s work, called it the decision-making inventory model. Those researchers were called Rowe and Boulgarides (1994), which has been termed the StyleUs™ model by Ingenium. It is an internationally validated and reliable twenty-item Likert assessment questionnaire that identifies an individual’s decision-making style preference. It has been widely used in different countries and cultures.

Looking at the StyleUs™ model, figure 1.1.1, and the two axes; firstly on the horizontal axis on the bottom, it is about task and processes moving from left to right into people and outcomes; secondly, on the vertical, it is about one’s ability to handle more unknowns or ambiguity, with the more information that is provided to the decision-maker.

decision-making style characteristics
Figure 1.1.1 Task-Focused Decision-Making Style Characteristics

Task Focused Decision-Making Style

In the first two task-focused quadrants, there is firstly the ‘Directive’ decision-making style. This is an individual who is execution-focused on getting project deliverables or tasks done in a very settled environment, with little or no ambiguity. This individual is very good at delivering the project. The second, the ‘Analytical’ person, has a firm affiliation with data, is outstanding in planning, develops the project’s existing culture, but is always looking for validity through the process.

People Focused Decision-Making Style

As we move across into the people-outcome focused quadrants, figure 1.1.2, the ‘Conceptual’ person is comfortable with turbulence; they are also comfortable with change and generating more ideas and create from others inputs and themselves. They are very focused on the outcomes in terms of ‘what is it that the project is trying to achieve?’. The final quadrant is the ‘Behavioural’ person. Someone who is very much focused on their charisma, enthusiasm, and engaging the team. This person emphasizes others’ values and needs, stimulating followers, asking questions, and engaging with people. This person is always looking for the team perspective and team buy-in.

Decision-making style characteristics
Figure 1.1.2 People-Focused Decision-Making Style Characteristics

Safety and Decision Making Styles

In a way, we can think about the decision-making quadrants as, on the left-hand side, it is about managing safety and safety initiatives and on the right-hand side, it is about leading safety and safety initiatives. Both are very necessary, and both are sometimes complimentary; however, they can challenge one another. The difference is knowing where one stands in the StyleUs™ model versus where others in the team, stakeholders or clients stand is critically essential for safety leadership teams.

Engaging with others, knowing that having a different decision-making style, will give the safety team collectively better quality decisions. Safety leadership teams should understand these models further and engage with others to understand their styles and perspective.


Firstly, as a safety leader, whatever one’s style is, all styles are welcome, and all styles are necessary; however, the key is to have the opportunity to explore new and different styles depending on the situation as one grows as a leader, because the way one is as a leader in the way one is viewed as a leader; decision-making styles are akin to a mirror.

The second is for safety leaders to work with people who have a different decision-making style. This provides the opportunity to create more effective and more expanded decisions if the safety leaders know their teams’ styles and vice-versa; this allows for collaboration in a complementary fashion.