Decision making is a driving force in all human life. From the moment you wake up every single thing you do is driven by making decisions. That’s why it’s a major part of business leadership. The difference between your current state and your next state (lesser or greater), is a decision. If you aren’t wired to make the right decisions you’ll dent any future prospects of succeeding in any endeavour. With a specific focus on differences between good and bad managers, I shall be looking at 7 things that differentiate a good manager from a bad one in decision making.

Objectivity vs. Politicking

Most managers tend to get sucked into workplace politics and lose sight of what’s important. Politicking usually creates camps that tend to be at loggerheads with each other and a bad manager normally takes sides. Suppose a competent employee is on the side the manager disfavours, he/she will be disregarded for consideration in task assignment. A less competent employee might end up being assigned simply because they are on the manager’s side. The creation of business value becomes compromised due to decisions based on politicking. A good manager remains objective despite the politics – they know it’s there but they skirt the politics. A good manager will actually find a way to leverage on the politics in a way that unites everyone – objectivity always wins!

Empirical vs. Random

A good manager is goal-oriented and gives appropriate guidance. They articulate the road map to everyone in a way that informs everyone about where they are going and how they are getting there. Since the manager is abreast with the road map, they will know if things are now going off-track. Their decisions will be informed by the vision with the road map serving as a reference. A bad manager is known for making random decisions that are just spontaneous and unprocessed. Remember as a manager you’ll often time be consulted by your subordinates on what to do. Bad managers live in the moment with no circular vision – they don’t consider the implications of the decisions they are making. They make decisions based on natural feelings without constraint. Good managers make empirical (evidence-based) decisions whereas bad managers make random uninformed decisions.

Bottom-Up vs. Top-Down

This aspect touches on how involved subordinates are in decision-making processes. Good managers value the input of everyone in the organisational structure. They prefer to hear the thoughts of everyone from the very least in the structure up. They appreciate that any decision taken has a bearing on everyone and as such it’s wise to involve everyone in the process thereof. A bad manager shoves down orders or directives without any prior consultation spanning across the whole structure. Decisions are worked out under unclear circumstances and are communicated to everyone else without their input. Information sharing is just from the top to lower structures and not the other way round.

Delegation vs. Micromanagement

Good managers know that they are not monopolies of skills and knowledge. It’s with that understanding that they value the importance of delegating tasks (which actually means they also delegate decision-making power). If every decision that has to be made must always be run by you it means you are a bad manager. You should delegate tasks and give people room and trust them enough to make the right calls without you interfering. A bad manager is a micromanager; they think no one can do things better than they do and so they interfere with everyone’s work. This seriously drowns your subordinates’ morale and productivity.

Universal Treatment vs. Selective Treatment

Being a manager means you run a team of people, thus, how you treat each and every individual is important. A bad manager shows favouritism and preferential treatment to some at the expense of others. This makes the manager make poorly premised decisions borne out trivial issues. Teamwork is compromised if you are such a manager because team cohesion can’t happen if some feel superior and some feel shunned. A good manager treats everyone the same; they may have preferences but they ensure that’s not apparent to everyone. A good manager thrives to cultivate an environment where everyone feels valued and treated the same.

Accessibility vs. Inaccessibility

How accessible or not a manager is, speaks a lot to how good or bad they are. The manager is a guide and at times is approached for clarity or directional issues. A bad manager has too much bureaucracy that makes it a tall order to simply get an audience with him/her. This can result in subordinates settling for the wrong decisions simply because they failed to get the necessary guidance in time. Bad managers are generally anti-social and never mix and mingle with lower employees. A good manager is accessible and relates with lower employees as fellow human beings, not as objects. This actually has a positive effect on the employees as they become more open and feel valued.

Present Context vs. Past Context

Bad managers are stuck in the past and aren’t open to new ways of thinking. You’ll hear them saying “we used to” a lot and that stifles decision making. Times have changed and the business environment is now more understood by Generation Z. If you are a Generation X or Y manager and you belittle the submissions of the Generation Z employee you’re liable to take a misstep. A good manager takes things in the present context and doesn’t unreasonably hold on to past ways or experiences that might be ineffective now.

This is a very broad topic that I could even write a book on. I’ve just discussed these 7 which I feel are extremely important. The over-arching aspect in light of all this is emotional intelligence. A good or bad manager is seen through the lens of how they manage their emotions in decision-making.