CONSENSUS - failing at this = failed (ineffective) teams, organizations and communities!
...............................is it just a management fad, or worse yet, a leadership program or gimmick? Some, maybe most have never seen true consensus, I fear. Consider these words: CONSENT, CENSUS -these derivations of CONSENSUS may give us some hint of its real meaning. For REAL LEADERS (and their teams, organizations or communities), here are a few dynamics to understand:
A WAY OF LIFE… not just something to try now and then, for IT to be successful, IT must be a way of life. It must be your (the LEADER) way of life in leading others successfully!
MAJORITY RULES… not really about majority rules. What we must understand as facilitators (real leaders) is that when we think that it is about what the majority wants….we are very likely going to be satisfied with voting. It’s as if, as long as we have a majority, then we have a decision! Wrong. The problem with this is ….where there is a majority, automatically this means we have a minority (thus winners and losers). Losers are the ones that will be heard to say later, “I told you so, …I knew it wouldn’t work, …and other such remarks” This is a clear indicator of no consensus from the beginning! Why?....because we did not practice consensus-seeking, we just accepted Majority Rules.
DEMOCRACY…this is closely aligned to the Majority Rules dynamics. Managers and Supervisors might fall into this same trap, thinking we are going to be a democracy and respect what most want?! Sounds good, but as we explained in the above paragraph about Majority Rules, …it is NOT consensus.
BUY-IN…. What does this term mean? We have bought-in to the solution. Consider the word BUY, what does it mean and when do we BUY? We buy when we can see the resulting value is worth the commitment of resources. Annnnnd when we ‘buy’, we therefore OWN. OWNERSHIP is just another word for CONSENSUS & BUY-IN. This is what the buy-in concept is all about, and why it is so critical to team, organizational & community success (and not just another buzzword to toss around).
TIME is potentially the biggest killer of the consensus process. Do we truly understand the value - and are we committed to its (CONSENSUS) importance - that we are willing to take the time to let the process work?
CONSENSUS HAPPENS WHEN…
We ALL have the ability to see and understand the solution, and therefore support it in execution.
Reasoning, understanding others, being understood have ALL occurred. ‘ Seeking to understand (seek first to understand before being understood, S. Covey), must be an approach taken by ALL.
REAL LEADERS FACILITATE (vs dominate, dictate or drive toward a predetermined opinion)…
Leader's opinions are expressed last or go last, if at all!?!…meaning that the leader is the CONSENSUS-PROCESS LEADER. When the leader is set on imposing his/her viewpoints and solutions up front & throughout the discussion - the process is likely going to be compromised, be biased, and fail to reach real consensus! One of the reasons why leaders, managers, city leaders or pastors even … typically don’t make good consensus-process leaders is because they do have a ‘dog in the hunt’, etc.
REAL LEADERS facilitate, ensuring ALL 1) focus on the process and goal, 2) attack the problem/issue vs attacking of people, 3) help in creating a non-threatening environment, 4) hear the possible options & alternatives, and 5) are brought into the culture of pursuing what WE want vs.winning/losing mentalities…
CONSENSUS!!! ALL THINK < ALL UNDERSTAND < ALL REASON < ALL BUY < ALL SUPPORT> ALL MAKE IT HAPPEN…