Leadership Perspective: Reverse Paradigms, Compromise versus Consensus
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Here’s the Transcript
A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is an ongoing conversation that comes up with about every organization that I work with. I find that people universally don’t understand the concept of consensus and confuse it with compromise. In fact, many leaders consider either on to be a weakness of leadership rather than a strength of an influencer leader.
Most groups attempt to utilize the principles and processes outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order, which is a time honored system of best practices. Utilizing consensus strengthens the Robert’s system.
When there are active, caring, engaged individuals working together and having meetings, there will be differing perspectives and opinions on things. This is a good thing. It’s the leader’s duty and delight to utilize those perspectives into a synergistic collaboration in which everyone understands the challenges and the benefits of every decision and backs the process. Consensus builds relationships. Compromise erodes relationships.
It will be obvious which side of this debate I fall on…consensus is giving consent to a decision. Many feel that compromise and consensus are the same. I disagree.
Despite my revealed opinion on this topic, I trust that you will be interested to see how I distinguish these two standards.
The comparisons to musical ensembles might make sense to you if you are a musician. If you are not a musician, then you might have some misconceptions of how the system works. The musical conductor is perceived by non-musicians, and some musicians, to be a dictator when, in reality, the musical conductor is an influencer. We influence singers and instrumentalists to function at their highest level. That’s a form of consensus.
- Everyone giving up something in order to agree on a decision
- A Win/Lose or Lose/Lose
- Holding to a view point and bargaining for middle ground
- Like a tug of war
- Power plays
- Personal needs/opinion positioning
- Everyone loses something
- More talking than listening
- A contractual legalistic agreement
- Everyone coming up with a better solution than each had originally conceived
- A Win/Win or No Deal
- Looking for additional options and not holding fast to an opinion
- Open and honest conversation
- Listening for options
- Open to options
- Holding the value for the organization and not for self
- Everyone gains more than originally perceived
- A group process of open conversation and decision backed by relationship
- A covenant agreement and relationship
- Consensus means that the individuals in the group function like a musical ensemble, in that they carefully listen to each other player/singer and adjust their playing for blend, tempo, dynamic, and tone, and don’t give up their excellence in musicianship. The synergy created by seeking and practicing consensus building, builds a culture that functions at a higher level and develops mutually agreeable accountabilities and standards of excellence.
By facilitating this process, the leader reaches a higher level of functioning by not micromanaging group process, but guides the process much like the conductor guides the ensemble. Conductors don’t make the music; they provide the leadership for musical excellence to happen.
Leadership is influence.
I’ll see you on the video…and then in the winner’s circle!
The Transformational Leadership Strategist TM
(c) 2017 Hugh Ballou. All rights reserved