Molding Consensus

Originally published at

We must move forward.

You’re looking for the best right thing.

You come up with a new approach. As a leader you’re looking to the future and see the benefits.

Why can’t everyone just agree and get on board?

Of course, there are financial constraints, over shadowing other initiatives, entrenched beliefs, and just the hassle of changing.

Question: Does everyone need to agree to move forward? Is consensus necessary?

Of course not. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that everyone will ever agree and that there will be consensus on anything.

However, what if?

What if, everyone is on board? What magic can happen?

  • Levels of support improve.
  • Resources appear.
  • Urgency increases.
  • Positive buzz develops.
  • The initiative is a priority officially and unofficially.
  • Problems get solved.
  • Barriers lower.
  • Your role as champion requires less effort.
  • The idea is adopted.
  • Progress is smooth.

What if we can create this level of smooth? It takes effort but what if we could change some minds, and influence the behaviors that generate the list above?

Can we mold consensus?

What will it take? Are you willing to take the extra effort to mold consensus at the start of your initiative and continue that work for the life of the initiative?

  1. End Result. So often the conflict is in the how more than the what. Step 1 is to get agreement on the desirability of the result. Does everyone agree that increasing sales by 12% is a great idea? It sounds funny however we really can’t take anything for granted.
  2. Side Effects. Just like the annoying pharmaceutical ads on TV, even the most desirable outcome can result in some nasty side effects. Identify the possible (even imagined) side effects for each person.
  3. Mitigation. Come up with individualized mitigation steps for each of the potential side effects. By doing this you are now working together towards a solution.
  4. Local Wins. Identify the individual and local wins and celebrate them. If the initiative ends up solving a long-term resource problem for one manager for example, explicitly acknowledge this.
  5. Local Losses. Identify the individual losses and work through them.

Like a President working a bill through Congress some horse-trading may be involved. Dictators think they don’t have to do that. While a corporation isn’t a democracy what we’ve talked about here is really necessary for great leadership — The New Leadership Normal. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, great leaders mold consensus.

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