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Leader decisions part 2: How well do leaders make decisions?

Since 2002, my colleagues and I have been documenting how leaders approach complex decisions with an assessment called the LDMA (Lectical Decision Making Assessment). The LDMA asks test-takers to explain how they would approach and resolve a complex workplace decision.

  • whether or not the decision-making process described in response to this prompt seemed to be related to the process actually applied when leaders addressed the dilemma posed in their assessment,
  • whether or not leaders could provide more than one satisfactory solution to the dilemma posed in their assessment, and
  • whether or not leaders considered the context in which the dilemma posed in their assessment developed as a potential cause of the problem.
  • The decision-making processes described by leaders often did not resemble the decision-making process they actually applied when resolving the dilemma. Only 39.4% of the leaders in our sample described a decision-making process that was clearly related to the process they applied when addressing the dilemma. This suggests a gap between decision-making knowledge and decision-making skill.
  • When asked to provide a second approach to solving an ill-structured problem, only 20% of test-takers generated a second approach they viewed as equal in quality to their first approach. This was true despite the fact that all of the dilemmas addressed by test-takers were designed to have no single correct solution and many possible reasonable solutions.
  • Although 35% recognized that the organizational culture, process, structure, or other context may have played a role in creating the problem described in the dilemma, only 7.9% described one or more specific ways in which the culture or context could have contributed to the problem. Put another way, most leaders looked for proximal causes in the form of particular stakeholders or specific events. And most often, it was individual people who were viewed as the cause of a problem.

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Award-winning educator, scholar, & consultant, Dr. Theo Dawson, discusses a wide range of topics related to learning and development.

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