Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Consensus Is the Absence of Leadership

Consensus is the absence of leadership
The title of this article is a famous quote from former prime minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher. Below is more from her on consensus.

"Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus'?"

Her rejection of consensus is seen as a reflection of her leadership and her ability to stand by her principles, unlike the modern-day political leaders driven by opinion polls and focus groups. Her saying and doing what she believed was an indication of her authenticity as a leader.

Today, some find issue with her statements — especially in our current non-judgmental world where everyone must be in agreement.

In workplaces today consensus decision-making is often touted as the ultimate solution for all problems. After all, it can increase employee participation and engagement, and thereby increase productivity … right?

Unfortunately, that's far from the case. The problem with consensus thinking is that most people don't understand its dangers. While all people may be created equal, they are certainly not all equals in the workplace. Different roles, responsibilities, objectives, motives, knowledge, skills, and information will make sure of this.

The thought that all employees should have an equal say is simply more politically correct thinking run amok. While I’m a true believer in candor in the workplace, and have always encouraged feedback and input at every level of an organization, this doesn’t mean everyone should have an equal say. They shouldn't.

For an organization or team to function there must be leadership.

Working in teams is not about equality at all; it has nothing to do with consensus. Rather, teamwork is about the alignment of vision with expectations, ensuring team members clearly understand their roles, and making sure they have the right resources to perform their duties with exacting precision.

Consensus thinking is devastating to all things productive.

When a leader asks others what direction to take, what values to believe in, and what purposes the business should be pursuing, he or she is not leading. That leader is, in fact, giving up on leadership.

Being truly interested in your employees' opinions and what they want is both admirable and necessary, but it is not the starting point. Knowing what you as a leader want and the direction your business is pursuing must come first.

As an executive who is bringing a business idea to life by means of a project, the vision must be yours. You cannot delegate it or abdicate it.

In a nutshell: Your role as a leader, as a guiding and inspirational force of your organization, cannot be delegated or shared.
Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 by Henrico Dolfing