Decision-Making: Personal and Life Choices
“Assess and Be Aware of Your Personality Type” (SL#101)
by Wm. M. Pinson, Jr., Th.D. with Lloyd Elder, Th.D.
adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 10 - Decision-Making

  1. Preparation for good decision-making includes an assessment and awareness of your personality type. God “wires” people in different ways. For example, people perceive reality, process it, and act on it in different ways. Knowing how you function, and especially how you function best, will assist you in making good choices. Many types of personality evaluation tools have been developed. Some of these can be self-administered. Others are administered by a counselor. Any summary of such complex assessment has four limitation types, but also potential benefits.
  2. Left Brain/Right Brain is one example of evaluating four personality types in relation to decision-making: presented by Roger Dawson, (The Confident Decision-Maker, p. 3)

    Left Brain (non-emotional)
    Right Brain (emotional)
    • Pragmatic(more assertive) • Extrovert (more assertive)
    • Analytical (less assertive) • Amiable (less assertive)

    The Pragmatic: Wants the bottom line. Concerned only about useful information. Conscious of time management. Short attention span. More assertive. Makes decisions quickly and typically based on fact.

    The Analytical: Wants all the details. Always looking for more information. Long attention span. Less assertive. Makes decisions slowly and typically based on fact.

    The Amiable: Wants everyone to be comfortable, happy and enjoying oneself. Long attention span. Less assertive. Makes decisions slowly and typically based on emotion.

    The Extrovert: Wants to have fun. Likes to joke, socialize, and run with a fun idea. Short attention span. More assertive. Makes decisions quickly and typically based on emotion.

    Note that no person functions in exactly one, and only one, of these ways; rather, these express the dominant way a person likely functions. Also note that no one of these personality types is right or wrong or even bad or good. However, each has strengths and weaknesses, and a person aware of his personality type in relation to decision-making can be equipped to overcome the weakness. For example, the extrovert may need to pay more attention to fact than he is naturally disposed to do. The analytical may need to be aware of the potential to over-study a decision and delay too long in making it.

  3. Decision-making models based on personality types:
    In their textbook on management, Dunham and Pierce include two chapters on decision-making. The following summarizes their assessment based on personality types (Management, p. 219).

    The Irrational Person: Has a variety of fears, anxieties, and drives. Decisions are driven by the unconscious motives underlying these fears and anxieties; facts are too often ignored.

    The Rational/Economic Person: Is rational and deals with objective facts. Is economically motivated. Decisions are driven by objective rationality and a search for the best possible alternatives; capable of straightline thinking.

    The Creative/Self Actualizing Person: Pursues total development of the inner self. Decisions are driven by a desire to develop the self even at the expense of external factors or group goals.
    .
    The Administrative Person: Is aware of only certain alternatives. Is limited by restrictive cognitive capacity. Decisions are driven by a desire to identify and select the most familiar or the first acceptable alternative.

  1. Risk tolerance is another key personality factor to take into consideration regarding decision-making. Some persons thrive on risk-taking. Others shrivel before the prospects of a major risk. The risk-taker is likely to make a decision too quickly without assessing all of the consequences. The person with an aversion to risks is likely to take too long in making a decision, putting off a final decision in an effort to make sure the risks are eliminated (not possible in most cases) or minimized. Low risk may show up in such things as overprotecting children, investing in CD's, or do-it-yourself work habits.
  2. Activity: Risk-Tolerance Assessment
    Here are some statements to help you assess your risk tolerance. Read only and learn, or better still, assess and mark each statement with N=never S=seldom O=often. Then, analyze your responses.

Reflection: Your style of leadership and decision-making relates directly to your personality and to your character. Good self-awareness will help you be a better decision-maker.

“Character is the combination of moral qualities by which a person is judged apart from intellect and talent. Or to put it in other words, it is the alignment of one's speech and actions with one's core beliefs about reality, life and truth. More simply, character has to do with one's demonstration of virtue.”--Hawkins, “Take the Leadership Gut Check,” p. 1 of www.leadershiplifestyle.com/articles/May/98.htm

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For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at www.servantleaderstoday.com
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership