Decision Outliers: Their Impact on Team and Organizational Effectiveness

By Beth Armknecht Miller, a leadership advisor, coach and Vistage chair for Executive Velocity, Inc.

In the book Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell, many of the stories focus on those outliers who were successful, often due to circumstances and luck. What if you have an outlying preference that holds you back? A behavior that, if modified, moves you closer to the norm and makes you more effective? Let’s take a look at Decision Outliers. We’ve all experienced someone who either makes decisions too quickly or too slowly, and for some of us we actually may have one of these tendencies ourselves.

Some of us are quick to decide, while others take a much longer time to decide. In either case, our personality preferences and past experiences have a strong influence on how we make decisions. If we tend to be an outlier on either side of the bell curve, decision making can be holding us back from being successful and getting to the next level of leadership. Do you know if you’re a Decision Outlier? And if you are one, how is your decision-making style impacting your relationships and job performance?

Slow Decision Outliers
Those who are slow decision makers often need a lot more data and information than others before making a decision. Making a decision without all the data creates too much risk for the slow decision outlier. The data needed can come in the form of hard and soft data. Hard data being metrics, facts and measurements, and soft data being feelings and the impact a decision will have on others.

Slow decision makers who are driven by how others will feel about the decision look for and desire a consensus decision-making process. They want all-in agreement before making a decision. And in the extreme, Slow Decision Outliers can become No Decision Outliers, stuck and unwilling to make a decision based often in fear of change and letting go of what is known and fully understood.

How does slow decision making impact you and your performance? In this rapidly changing world, slow decision makers can be at a huge disadvantage. New information is coming at them faster than ever before, and without self-imposed time limits, opportunities will pass them by, both personally and professionally. If they are working in a team environment, they are probably frustrating their team members who want to move forward with the project.

If you consistently meet the description above, then thoroughly explore all the benefits of making the decision that would create change. And realize that not making a decision brings its own set of risks.  Identify these risks of maintaining the status quo.

Fast Decision Outliers
Fast Decision Outliers can find themselves making decisions with not enough data. These decision makers don’t like lots of detail; they are often driven by the end result. And if the decision is about something that doesn’t have a big impact on them, details get in the way. Change is not stressful for them, yet they often are oblivious of the impact that change has to others around them. They can be creating stress with other team members. These decision outliers can be viewed as autocratic if they aren’t willing to listen to others ideas and information that would be helpful to the decision-making process.

Are you a Decision Outlier? And if so what changes can you make to be a more effective leader?
So for those of you who are outliers in decision making, when do you need to adjust and adapt your decision making preferences and move into the mainstream? When the decisions being made are having a direct impact on someone’s job, including your own! And on the personal side, ask your friends and family how the way you make decisions impacts them. If there are little or no signs of being a Decision Outlier, then be confident that you possess an effective decision-making process!

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