4 Main Decision Making Styles: Directive vs Conceptual vs Consultative vs Consensus

Numerous factors, whether social, psychological or economic, influence the decision-making process. Though we all see the world through individualized lenses and react to external and internal stimuli differently, scientists agree that most people fall into one of four basic categories for decision making, these being: directive, conceptual, consultative, and consensus.

  1. Directive

    This decision-making style relies on an autocratic model where the person in charge uses their own knowledge and experience to choose the best course of action. Someone that uses a directive style is very rational and has a low tolerance for ambiguity.



  2. Conceptual

    Unlike the directive decision-making style, leaders that use this form of thinking address problem thinking in a more relaxed way. They are not afraid to take high risk decisions and don’t get annoyed when they don’t have all the needed data at hand. They usually look for different alternatives and analyze each one carefully without excluding any single idea.


    Here’s an example that illustrates this type of decision-making style perfectly. After gaining its independence, Singapore decided to undergo a heavy industrialization process. There was no precedent nor any analytical data to support this endeavour. The risks were high and there was no guarantee of success. Despite all that, the Singapore government considered all the options and chose the one that fit their long-term vision best. That is conceptual decision making at its finest.

  3. Consultative

    In a consultative model, you are still the one responsible for taking action, but you do it with input from your colleagues and partners. While you don’t negotiate a consensus with the group and everyone is aware that the final decision rests with you, you value and employ others’ knowledge and expertise to ensure the best outcome.



  4. Consensus

    As the name suggests, in a consensus decision-making style no single leader is responsible for decision making. Instead, the group debates the issues and comes to a conclusion together. Each and every member is encouraged to voice their opinion and have their say about what they think the best course of action is. Consensus style doesn’t mean that everyone has to be agree with the idea. However, they do need to put their personal views aside and support the decision that the group has taken.

Take a second to think about your decision-making style and its effectiveness. Did your approach help you make correct decisions and maximize the outcome? Or, on the contrary, did it hinder the process? Is there something that you can do to improve decision making process?