Look for Passionate Advocates When Consensus Is Impossible
Working toward consensus when making a major decision is a worthy goal.
Consensus fosters goodwill for future decisions, as well as ensuring the buy-in so critical to executing or implementing the decision. But smart and strong-minded colleagues sometimes disagree.
When consensus is not achievable, leaders must have an alternate path to make the decision without resorting to making the call unilaterally.
Reviewing the arguments on both sides of the decision and exploring the reasons one or more colleagues can’t live with it will assist the team and the leader in moving toward a choice. But the best leaders always listen for passion around a decision. They look to see who feels the need to champion the idea.
Tuning into the frequency of passion helps leaders sort out where the whole team really stands on a decision. Because it is always easier to dispute or reject a decision, passionately in favor should always overrule passionately against.
The key is to find a quorum.
When consensus is negated, identifying two or more passionate advocates lights the pathway forward. With anything less than a core group of zealots in favor of the decision, good leaders should share the discomfort of those against the decision and keep the issue on the table until a different solution or choice presents itself. Without the passion of multiple advocates, decisions need to be delayed.
As the writer E.M. Forster liked to say, “One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.”
Passionate advocates tip the scales when consensus can’t be reached. Find them, or mark time until you do.