The power of consensus decision making
Consensus decision making is essential for creating commitment & buy-in. Strong leaders work through a consensus process rather than rely on positional power and authoritarian decision making.
Let me dispel the myth that consensus is based on complete agreement from all participants. No group of people, passionate about an outcome, will agree 100% on how to achieve that outcome. The key is to turn the differing views into productive discussion & fact finding that leads to clarity & action.
This is only possible when your business or organization is a safe space where vulnerability, honesty and productive conflict can flourish? Can you create space for the minority opinions to be shared & heard?
Consensus exists when the group agrees on a single best alternative and each member can honestly make these three statements to every other member.
- I believe you understand my point of view.
- I believe I understand your point of view.
- I believe the decision has been made in an open and fair manner, and I am willing to support the group’s decision whether or not it’s my preference.
Key elements of the process include:
- Open communications
- Dialogue before decision making
- All decision makers have access to the full information
- Presume goodwill
- QTip – quit taking it personally
True consensus decision making requires that everyone shares their ideas openly & honestly, even if it is a minority position. Everyone must know that their opinions have been heard & their ideas have been considered.
You will know you are avoiding fake harmony& building true consensus when the team members are willing to rally around whatever decision is ultimately made by the group, even if they voted against it.
This may be an acquired skill for your team or organization. First, let’s agree that productive conflict is not a waste of time. Failure to make clear & actionable decisions is a waste of time.
Here is what one of my favorite business experts, Patrick Lencioni, has to say about the advantages for teams that engage in productive conflict.
- They have lively & interesting meetings
- They extract & use the ideas of all team members
- They quickly solve real problems
- They minimize interpersonal politics
- They put critical topics on the table for discussion
All of this leads to a bias for ACTION! Notice too, that “perfect” is not part of the equation and the absence of “I told you so.” makes room for adapting and improving on decisions as new data & evidence are accumulated.
One final caveat, as messy as it can be at times, leaders must restrain the urge to jump in too soon. THINGS TAKE TIME! Allow for resolution to flow naturally from the process. It’s a good way to demonstrate your trust in the team & its members.
Let’s talk about ways that I can help you develop a truly committed team bent on taking action together.