(615) 656-0465 mark@markskenny.com

Note: this is the tenth in a series of weekly tips to build a functional, collaborative, aligned team.

Tip: Seek Buy-In, Not Consensus

Most of us as leaders try to create consensus on our team. Consensus feels good. Consensus is comfortable. Consensus makes everyone happy.

The problem with consensus is that when faced with a difficult or really important decision or issue, we don’t get the best decision or the best course of action. Instead, we get a watered-down decision or action because we are trying to make everyone on the team happy.

Pat Lencioni writes about this when he says that consensus is a four-letter word.

In my experience, there are many times when consensus happens naturally on the team and that is great. But that shouldn’t be the goal. The goal of the leader should be to create vibrant, passionate debate around ideas by making sure that everyone weighs in with their opinion. That way, we can get to the very best decision and course of action, even if there is disagreement (see the last tip on creating conflict norms for your team).

After the debate, if there is not a natural consensus, it’s the leader’s job to say that “Everyone has had a chance to weigh in and it is my job to break the tie. This is the direction that we are taking.”

You can and should ask for everyone’s buy-in to the decision at that point, even if they initially disagreed. And they will be more likely to buy in if they have clarity as to what they are buying in to, and if they have had a chance to weigh in with their opinion and feel like their voice has been heard.

Now, you have produced the best decision for the team around the most important issues.

Go build a functional, collaborative, aligned team!