Leadership is defined as the achievement of an objective by human assistance. While a successful leader is the one that engages employees based on their needs and understand what motivates them. Good leadership style is the one that create the opportunities for the employees to learn and grow without restrictions(Ballantyne, Berret, & Wells, 2011). There are four major factors that influence the choice of leadership style: personality, belief system, and company culture and employee diversity.Leadership is a much expansive concept than is management. Even though managers are perceived as leaders, management is concentrated on the accomplishment of organizational objectives. Leadership in contrast ensues whenever one person endeavor to impact the conduct of an individuals or group-up, down, or oblique in the organization irrespective of the reason(Spooner, 2015). It may perhaps be for individual goals or for the aims of others, and these goals may or may not be consistent with organizational objectives. Leadership is characterized with an individual with the following competences: (1) aptitude to identify or comprehend the circumstances they want to influence, (2) adapting for the purposes of allowing their conduct and other resources to close the breach between the existing condition and what they are anticipating to achieve, and (3) capability to communicate effectively.
It is challenging to fully conceptualize leadership due to many contestation of style of leadership and its impacts on the organization. Nonetheless, it is important to differentiate two aspects of leadership. The first aspect of leadership is the one that relates to provision of direction, spearheading the organizational vision and making decision regarding the allocation and distribution of resource(Yates, 2001). There are several means of achieving these, some leaders may use dictatorial or autocratic style of leadership, while others may prefer to use laissez faire or democratic means. These styles of leadership differ based on source of power and the impacts on levels and the extent to which workers contributes or participate in decision making process in the organization(Kennedy, Deuel, Nelson, & Slavit, 2011). The extent and the quality of workers participating in organizational decision making tend to reduces as the leadership style move from democratic to autocratic.
The second aspect relates to issues of exerting influence and control. These two aspect involves ability to obtain power, retain and allocate resource. In this case power is applied to enforce decisions and the outcome may not be desirable to particular group or individuals. But in the case of democratic or laissez faire style of leadership, power is distributed among the members so that each staff member have equal opportunity to participate in decision making(Park, & Datnow, 2009). The differential distribution of power in organizational decision making form the basis of development of various concepts of leadership. The primary difference between these styles of leadership is the level of emphasis from strategic to operational and the extent of inclusion in organizational decision making. For example, leaders operating in contemporary educational institutions find it challenging to strike an optimal decision making processes due to increased heterogeneity in terms of diversity of teaching staff and students
Personality of an individual cannot be ignored when choosing a person to lead a group of employees. It is important to aligned personality of an individual with specific methods of management for an organization or entrepreneur to be successful. This allows the leader to work comfortable based on his/her basic nature. For example, a manager who prefers to strictly follow set protocols is likely use authoritative style to make employees perform their duties(Yates, 2001). While a charismatic manager is likely to use democratic style where employee are left to carry out activities with more freedom.
Leadership continues to attract more attention from scholars and academic community, thus the number of research and investigation has increased in the past decade. As a result, leadership theories and approaches have continuously been improved with increasing studies. Leadership theories can be grouped into two broad categories: authoritarian leadership theories and inclusive leadership theories(Fielder, 1967). Through categorization of leadership theories one is able to clearly comprehend organizational decision making process. To start with, authoritarian leadership theories describes a leadership approach whereby a leader intends to implement a very specific vision and that vision needs not to be compromised. Although, other staff members do not participate in organizational decision making, data input is still required to aid in arriving at effective decision.
In the other hand, inclusive leadership theories describes leadership approach that allow other staff members to participate in organizational decision making process. Inclusive leadership theories can be further categorized into two: distributed and collaborative leadership. Distributed leadership is an approach whereby decision making process is distributed to different levels in the organization(Yates, 2001). This style of leadership creates an atmosphere for exchange of information and give the opportunity to the staff to rectify their mistakes without being penalized. Distributed leadership has three important elements:
- Encourages leadership to recognition and the use of experiential and internal intellectual resources.
- Distinguishes lateral and top-down decision-making process.
- Promotes collaborative inquiry and culture building through dialogue.
This leadership style encourages team work because decision making process is distributed and people involve in decision making would consult each other and work collaboratively.
The second category is collaborative leadership approach whereby decision making process is shared which is clearly a suggestion of inclusive leadership style. Collaborative leadership approach encourages people to work collaboratively which is dependent of the leadership(Spooner, 2015). This leadership style promote the effective utilization of individual talent and organizational framework to make appropriate decision based upon available information. Studies have shown that this type of leadership provide leaders with the opportunity to make decisions that enables the organization to compete globally. Regardless of the approach an organization utilizes whether it is authoritarian or inclusive approach, information is necessary to arrive at effective decision(Kennedy, et al., 2011). The information is important when evaluating the opportunities that the organization can utilize in order to make decision that make it competitive advantage in global economy.
Decision making process can be analyzed from three perspective: at the personal level, at a small group or aggregate level and at the organizational level. At the personal level, an individual undergoes a generic problem solving cycle in the process of making personal decision about the issues that needs to be solved. Personal decision ranges from rational and structured to irrational and unstructured based on complexity, availability of resources and time(Park, & Datnow, 2009). Decision made at a small group or aggregate incorporate more structured methodologies which comprisesrational problem solving strategies about the issues that relates to operations. While decision making at organizational level tend to be more strategic because it involves senior management team who are tasked with the responsibility of carrying out strategic decisions about the organization.
According to Bernhard (2006), decision making is defined as “the process through which an individuals, groups or teams arrive at implementable outcomes from a range of competing choices about issues in their organizations.” This definition present two key phrases ‘implementable outcome’ and ‘from a range of competing choices’. This means that decision become valid when it has been implemented and that decision was arrived at after weighing other potential solution to a given issue. The extent to which an individual feels to be capable of participating in decision making process through making choices among the possible solution is a key indicator of the decision quality. Many people would like to get involve in decision making process if the choices made are perceived to have some bearing in their private and public lives as the staff of the organization.
Hoffberg, & Korver, (2006) identified four important that leaders make mindful tradeoffs to balance contradictory needs within the decision process itself. The four key decision paradoxes are:
- Inclusion vs. efficiency: Leaders find themselves in dilemma on whether to include other people in decision making process or avoid the cases of debate and dialogue and make decisions on their own. Although inclusive decision making can be costly in terms of time, it leads to quality decisions because of diversity and inclusiveness. Empirical evidence suggested that more strategic decision prefer efficiency over inclusion, while operational decision prefer inclusion over efficiency.
- Empowerment vs. control: Leaders should choose the degree to which responsibility is delegated when making decision starting from problem framing to announcing the decision. Some leaders prefer to be involved in every step of decision making, while others would prefer to delegate responsible to other staff members to work autonomously.
- Instinct vs. method: Some leaders would prefer to use instinct to resolve emerging problem under certain circumstance based upon their experience. The implication of this approach is that it leads to speedy decision, but the leader should monitor the outcome so that appropriate adjustment are made as they go(Spooner, 2015). Other leaders would prefer to use specific methodology to arrive at the decision. This approach is more cautious because it involves the consideration of alternative, opportunities and risks before taking a decision.
- Head vs. Heart: Leaders agonize whether to resolve emerging problem through divergent thinking and creativity or through compassion and emotion on the other hand. Leaders must balance the extent to which other people’s emotion and their own emotions and needs override or influence the consideration of decision making.
Models of decision making
Despite the existence of multiplicity of organizational decision making models, they are grouped into three broad categories. These are:
- Rational decision-making models: The models are relied on the economic perspective of decision making, founded on optimality, consequence, alternative and objectives or goals. The assumption made on this model is that full information regarding the problem is available, therefore the leaders would assess alternative solutions before settling on the optimal solution that would be implemented(Yates, 2001). The advantage of these models is that it utilizes logical and sequential approach grounded on authentic information. Further assumption with these models is that the individuals involved in decision making process do not introduce their own intrinsic biases in the process.
- Political decision making models: Contrary to rational approaches, political models focuses on people biases and preconceptions in the decision making process. People involved in decision making process are perceived to be motivated by their own perceptions and needs. These models advocates for negotiation and bargaining among decision makers to accept one particular choice(Hoffberg, & Korver, 2006). Unlike rational models, political models to some extend involves deception because full information is withheld intentionally or not available, thus making one side of the decision makers to be advantages. The advantage of political models is that it reduces conflicts by acknowledging the significance of personal subjective views in decision making, as long as one side of the decision makers successfully manages to convince the other group to support their choice(Park, & Datnow, 2009). However, political models does not guarantee optimal solution to the problems, thus possibly resulting to long-lasting detrimental effects in the organization by wear away people’s confidence.
- The precedent models: These models highlight the importance of past experience and precedent. The assumption made on this models is the emerging problem must have occurred at one time in the organization, therefore, these problems are predictable and should serve as reference when solving the current problem(Hoffberg, & Korver, 2006). The model strictly follow pre-established procedures and guideline which form a basis of decision making. The advantage of this models is that the solutions can be tested and tried before implementing. However, the precedent models suppresses new ideas and innovation. Newer and young staff in the organization may feel discriminated because the models relies on the past experience.
Instituting inclusive decision making process
- Undertake inclusive review: the first step is to review the characteristic of the company i.e. the size, the type of work, the employees, the customers and the objective of the company. During this process, the leadership should also consider the legal requirements and sector-specific standards that need to be complied with(Kennedy, et al., 2011). While undertaking an inclusive review, organizational demographic plays crucial role in determining the make-up of the work force in the work place such as age, gender, religion, ethnicity and disability.
- Formulate an action plan: this is the process of devising the best action plan that can be implemented to boost inclusive participation in decision making process at all levels in the work place(Kennedy, et al., 2011). The action plan include; actively involving employees, creating a culture of inclusion and respect, inclusive recruitment, development and promotion of employees and inclusive consultation.
- Communication and implementation of the action plan: the means of communication a leader would choose to communicate with the employees depends with the nature and size of the organization. Common ways of reaching out to the employees include;
- Organizing for seminars and luncheon events where the management could interact freely with the employees as they discuss about the action plan.
- Creating interactive web page which is accessible to all employees
- Posting the action plan on the notice board and staff intranet where employees can access the information conveniently.
- Disseminating information in other formats such as newsletters since all the employees in the work place might not be accessible to computers. The information must be written in the simplest language that all the employees understand.
- Regular review of policies and practice: the process is very important in the workplace since it would be guiding any changes that need to be implemented as well collecting the feedback from the employees about the practices that should be changed in order to improve working environment
Benefits of inclusive decision making in the workplace
- Attracts new talents to the organizations since the workplace promote culture of togetherness and allow workers to express their ideas freely.
- Retained experience, committed and productive staff as that new employees will learn from the experience work force.
- Widen the customers’ ranges and explores the area that have not been exploited in the business.
- Create an inclusive work force that brings together people of different works of life.