Tutor’s Name

24th , November 2012


Decision-making and problem solving are important aspects of life. These are responsible for the different choices a person makes and most probably determines their personality. Good decision-making and problem-solving skills are advantageous for every person, especially those who are in leadership positions. These are frequently faced with situations, which require them to make important decisions and choices, which may greatly influence the body they are managing. Therefore, decision-making skills put a demarcation between leaders and non-leaders. In the process of decision-making, one needs to make the decision as fast as possible, while ensuring the effectiveness of the decision made (Baker, 2006). Procrastination in decision-making may make the situation or problem worse. Decisions should therefore be made and executed in a timely manner. These should be accepted by the people, in addition to being high-quality decisions. Critical conditions need critical thinking to be applied in order to arrive at a conclusive and well-thought decision. Therefore, one needs to reason and where possible apply the various decision-making and problem-solving models and theories in order to ensure quality of their decisions (Bell, Raiffa, & Tversky, 1998). It is also important for one to be flexible and react promptly to situations. This brings boosts personal confidence. This paper highlights a personal decision-making process, where being the supervisor of my group at my work place, one of the group members challenges my authority by behaving in an indiscipline manner, and shows a poor attitude.

Problem Background

I got a promotion to become a supervisor for a group of employees at our small office. Roles of a supervisor include monitoring specific employees’ performance and behavior. This is a leadership position that I was presented with. During my initial encounter with my small group of employees, I felt some kind of resentment and resistance from some of the group members. This is because probably they liked the former supervisor. However, the former supervisor was relieved of his duties due to performance issues. During my first assignment, I was expected to supervise the rehearsals for our company’s sports day. Sports day came once every year, and was aimed at encouraging bonding of the employees as they engaged in various sport, competing with each other. My duty on this rehearsal day was to ensure orderliness and active participation of all members of my group, including assigning each of them to a game type they would participate in on the sports day. However, in the course of my coordination, I realized that one member of my group did not follow a single instruction I gave out. He would defy instructions and move in and out of the group’s meeting place. Additionally, he would deliberately refuse to participate in some demonstrations I had asked the group to perform. This infuriated me, considering that I sometimes lose my temper so fast. However, I tried to control my emotions and play cool. Remaining calm did not make this employee comply with the session requirements. This is a disciplinary case where my subordinate challenged my authority as a supervisor and put me in a challenging situation about the course of actions I was to adopt as a leader. As a leader, I was expected to make the right decisions, which would not be lethal to either the involved employee or me in order to change his attitude toward me, for better coordination and effective execution of tasks.

Approaches to Decision-Making and Problem-Solving

As a leader, I managed to solve the problem successfully. However, further exposure to leadership and knowledge on the models and approaches to decision-making and problem solving has given me a different way of looking at how I could have addressed this situation in a more favorable way. As a supervisor, I was responsible for planning, and analyzing situations, identifying and solving problems, including potential problems, make quality decisions, and develop realistic goals for my group. Nonetheless, in this situation, there were many options of how I would have chosen to address this situation. Different companies embrace different forms of decision-making and problem-solving processes (Sanderson, & Gruen, 2006). Some of the common models of decision-making include the popular, classical model or seven-step problem-solving, decision-making process; secondly, there is a complex form of decision-making, followed by a more simplified decision-making process (“Harvard Business School.” :Lau, 2002).

The Rational-Economic (Classical) Model of Decision Making

I could have used this model to address the situation. First a logical mind was important before addressing the situation. This is ensure that none of the key elements influencing this situation are neglected. The seven steps in this model are;

  1. Identifying the problem
  2. Gathering information
  3. Developing course of action
  4. Analyzing and comparing the identified courses of action and looking for alternatives
  5. Making a decision, by selecting the best course of action (Li, 2008).

Identifying the Problem

Problem identification must be carried out with extra care and keenness to ensure that the right problem and right cause of problem are identified. If one identifies the wrong problem and wrong cause of problem, they will arrive at a wrong solution. This also includes gathering relevant information, which may lead to the cause of the problem. From the information collected, one is able to use their judgment to arrive at the right possible cause of the problem (Li, 2008). In this case, I had identified the problem as a disciplinary case, where a subordinate employee was challenging my authority as his supervisor. This forced me to take actions in order to control the situation and maintain discipline in my group, while ensuring their respect.

Gathering Information

This stage includes gathering relevant information that can possibly influence the identified problem. Such information can be sourced from different sources such as the employees, higher, and subordinate level (Li, 2008). This information will be handy in developing the course of action. However, this stage can be omitted because of time factor. In my case, this stage is unnecessary, since I already know that this employee disliked me as he was against the demotion of the former supervisor, whom he preferred much.

Developing Course of Action

One must keep an open mind in this stage and anticipate change, therefore turning down all preconceived ideas (Heller, 1992). One can develop many courses of action and employ the concept of probability. Actions to counteract obstacles in the way of decision-making are also developed at this stage. Brainstorming is a technique that comes in handy at this stage when a person fails to come up with enough courses of action (Li, 2008). In my case, some of the possible courses of action would be first of all to reprimand the employee in the course of our group meeting and let him know that I would raise his attitude to the concerned company authorities, and recommend his firing if he persists with this insubordination. Alternatively, I would have sternly ordered the employee to comply with the activities of the group meeting.



Analyzing and Comparing courses of Action

Here, one chooses the most appropriate course of action. This is through comparing the advantages and disadvantages of all the courses of action identified, and choosing one that outweighs the rest after a careful analysis of all the courses of action. Up to this point, if need be, one should have involved external trusted parties in some of the stages (Li, 2008). In my case, I could have weighed the advantages and disadvantages of the two courses of action I had chosen. In the first course of action, the action portrays me as powerful and authoritative. The disadvantage is that the action is unprofessional as reprimanding an employee in the presence of others is unethical. Letting the employee know the punishment that I would have employed on his actions is also wrong. In the second course of action, I would not be reprimanding the employee in public, which is good. This course of action is also devoid of threats and brings me out as a leader, who does not back down. It also allows me to punish the employee later. The disadvantage is that some group members may consider me as lenient to cases of insubordination, and therefore may make similar mistakes in future (Robertson, 2001).

Making a Decision

Having gone through all the processes, one is now able to consider their emotions and intuitions. Decision-making is not objective and has no formula; therefore, one may make a final decision depending on their intuitions and emotions. However, the final decision should not be influenced by emotions and intuitions alone (Li, 2008). In my situation, giving proper analysis to the information I have would have helped me come up with an appropriate decision. My decision would be to, first, order the employee to follow what the rest of the group was doing, and ask him to meet me after the rehearsal. If he does not obey, I would have explained to him that he is being indiscipline, then give him a second order. If he still refuses to follow the second order, he would have committed two mistakes. From here, I would be justified to forward his case to the concerned top management of the company. This decision is appropriate as it considers the employee, by giving him two chances to follow my orders. If he faces sanctions he will not have anyone to blame (Zsolnai, 2009).


This case presented me with an opportunity to take on leadership roles as I even grow up to be a responsible and decisive person. It also changed the way I relate with people since in different companies, people have different personal values, which are hard to change. Nonetheless, I learnt that being a leader is not easy, and the decision-making process too requires commitment and skills and effective communication, problem solving, goal-setting, supervision, and planning. However, being a leader or not, the process of decision-making requires coordination from the people one is dealing with, as most decisions at work places cannot be addressed solely by one person.



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Normative, and Prescriptive Interactions. London: Cambridge University Press.

Heller, F. (1992). Decision Making and Leadership. New Jersey: CUP Archive.

Lau, R. (2002). Models of Decision Making. Chapter 2. Department of Political

Science, Rutgers University, November 18, 2002.

Li, B. (2008)The Classical Model of Decision Making Has Been Accepted as not

providing an Accurate Account of How People Typically Make Decisions. International Journal of Business and Management. Vol. 3:6 (151-153).

Robertson, S. (2001). Problem Solving. New York: Psychology Press.

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