Never, ever use the “C” word…

Consensus

Or, if you want to take action (instead of talk action), get to the truth of the issues you face and move forward…

Consensus

Please don’t get me wrong, I am all for listening to different points of view, for seeking agreement and for open and authentic leadership – and none of those three has anything to do with Consensus.

Because it never, ever works.

How many people do you need in a room, to get a disagreement?

Yes, two (some psychologists say one – the first sign of madness is talking to yourself, the second sign is arguing with yourself and the final sign is losing the argument).

For now, let’s say two.

So, what chance do you as a leader or a team member have of getting absolute 100% agreement in your team, in a project or in a meeting?

None

So stop trying.

Instead, do the following:

    •    Agree that this team takes cabinet responsibility for all decisions that it takes – i.e. whatever your opinion, you support whatever decision is made.

    •    Give everyone a chance to have their say, and respect everyone’s point of view.

    •    Make a true decision (if you take a vote, anyone who has not contributed loses the right to vote).

And that is not consensus, that is openness, respect and commitment.

With my love and best wishes

David
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9 Comments

  • Michael Sumner

    I agree with that totally David.
    It’s about talking to one another. Having a discussion. The more people that can do that in a company the better.

  • Marcus Adams

    Respecting others views is key here.
    Letting everyone have their say, not just a leader putting their point across, means that leader will gain more respect for their action and the team will be stronger for it.

  • Mary Hull

    Not being given a voice in a company is the hardest thing of all.
    Being told the rules and not having an influence in a team is hard and one of the reasons I left an organisation. Now i am happier because I made that decision to be heard.

  • I have to agree with you, David!

    A few years ago I was very unhappy as a Team Manager because I always sought to please all my team members (17 of them!) and my managers. I was convinced consensus was possible. I ended up near-enough with a nervous breakdown.

    The feedback received then helped me in my current job, one level higher, where I have to deal daily with multiple senior stakeholders with different interests and views, in order to achieve something in a very short space of time – the joys of being the Communications Manager for a huge project in a large company.

    I just listen to everyone, take all the good points from everyone and then “make an executive decision”! I also remember to give credit to those who contributed either way.

  • Boris Cahn

    Taking the good points from each person is an excellent idea and it is so important to share your thoughts with each other as a team to get the best of a situation.
    People who just want to bulldoze their own ideas through by enlisting the help of a few colleagues should not be allowed to get away with it.

  • Cynthia James

    Having a majority decision is always one that i have thought works best.
    As you say David you are never going to get everyone agreeing but it is vital to have their input into how they think and then they must support the idea.
    The project manager in the Apprentice often has some dissenting voices. Then those people have to support the PM and work with it as best they can.
    That is the way of things in many companies I have come across.

  • Chris Everton

    The consensus never prevailed where I have worked so I have to agree with sentiments.

  • Paul Charlton

    Going with the consensus. Isn’t that the same as supporting the majority once there is one?

  • Harry Peake

    Going with the consensus of opinion is not the same as going with the majority. You have to have your say first so therefore you are expressing you opinion and you go from there.
    If it so happens that there is a majority then that is different to a conensus.

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