Many of my clients talk about the struggle they’re having with getting agreement on their team. They say things like “my team is just not on the same page” or “I need to build consensus with my staff.” When I hear this, my answer is always the same: you don’t need agreement, you need commitment. Here’s what I mean…
I’ll be having a conversation with a member of the leadership team that goes something like this:
“Jim, wouldn’t it be easier if I got them all to agree with the idea?”
“Absolutely, John,” I say.
“Then why wouldn’t I try to get agreement?” says John.
“Do you think the hard decisions that are needed will be made with this approach?” I respond. “Do you think you will build the best plan with everyone’s two cents as a part of it? At the end of the day, do you think your team will respect you more if you are trying to get everyone to agree?”
Let me answer this last one. They won’t.
Faster horse or enduring company?
Now don’t get me wrong. I think one of the essential roles of a leader is to get buy-in, or as we say in EOS®, get the Vision shared by all (SBA). The problem lies in words like ‘consensus’ or ‘agreement’. Consensus management doesn’t work. Great leaders set a vision and then get the team to commit to the vision.
We all want leaders that are concise decision-makers. They get the information they need, make a decision, and then build commitment, not consensus.
As Henry Ford famously said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” Buy-in is important, but lead your team. Have the strength to ask for their commitment and not worry about creating agreement.
At the end of the day, it’s the difference between creating an enduring company or just developing a faster horse.
Written by Jim Coyle on September 26, 2019