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
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.
- 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.
- Decision-making models based on personality
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
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
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
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.
I enjoy the thrill of making a decision; it gives me
a “rush.” _____
When evaluating alternatives, I focus more on what is
to be gained rather than what could be lost. _____
In making decisions, if my choice “feels good”
I move ahead regardless of what others may say. _____
A few basic facts about a decision satisfies me; I do
not feel the need to consult a lot of resources. _____
I am impatient with persons who want to consider all
the angles before making a decision._____
- If my decision has negative consequences, I shrug it off and move ahead
to the next choice. _____
- I do not second-guess decisions once I make them. _____
If you answered “often” to most or all of these, you are
likely a risk-taker. If you answered “never,” then you likely
are not one. Do you think this finding is reflected in your decisions?
Be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each personality type as
you develop your decision-making process.
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
© 2010 servantleaderstoday.com; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
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