Making Decisions

In a recent conversation about the Myers-Briggs personality assessment tool, the topic of how and why we make decisions came up. If you are familiar with Myers-Briggs, you know that the 4th dimension, perceiving (“p”) versus judging (“j”) has a lot to do with making decisions. People who are high in judging find making decisions easy. In fact, they are uncomfortable with ambiguity and like to choose and move on. They tend to see things as black and white. People who are high j’s are planners. They want to know where things are going. Detailed check lists are their friends.

People high in perceiving are very comfortable with not making decisions. They can live with grey. No decision today? That is okay. Where are we going on vacation? We can make a plan next week. Or better, let’s decide when we get in the car.

Do you recognize yourself in either of these descriptions? Each has their pluses and minuses. As a leader, you probably know yourself, and the benefits of each style, but let me remind you of how to get better at staying in the middle.

If you are a high j, slow down. Listen to when your anxiety is moving you to decide too fast. Ask yourself when the decision really needs to be made. Force yourself to get feedback even though you may think you know the best answer. Listen to the feedback rather than arguing why it is wrong.

If you are a high p give yourself a deadline. Tell yourself you only need input from 3 or fewer people. Lay out your reasons for your first instinctive thought so you don’t get swayed just because you hear a forceful argument from someone who is a high j. Be careful of kicking the bucket uphill. If you go to your boss for advise, bring your suggested strategy with you. P’s are more likely not to get promoted even if their true decision making ability is better than a j.

If you want to know more about Myers-Briggs, there are lots of free tests on line. The free ones are pretty rudimentray, but it is a start to knowing yourself better. And, knowing yourself better is a huge step towards great leadership.

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Photo by Paul Dye of Tim Bartley, Pam Hunt and Nora Paller hiking in South Lake area of the Eastern Sierra.