I see leaders waste a lot of time, energy, and effort in business trying to create harmonious decisions that everyone on the team agrees with. I’m not suggesting an autocratic approach as the alternative, but too often, leaders mistakenly push for a unanimous decision rather than a consensus decision. Consensus reflects a judgment or agreement by a majority of those involved. Unanimous decisions require everyone to agree.
When it comes to aligning a leadership team, getting a unanimous decision may drag out decisions until they don’t matter any more, or result in a non-decision. Either way, good ideas languish and the winner is the status quo.
So avoid the trap of trying to make
happy about decisions. Instead, drive alignment with consensus on the problem that needs to be solved or issue to be addressed. As Charles Kettering once said, “a problem well-stated is half-solved.”
Leaders frequently spend too little time defining the issue and too much time arguing over alternatives. Instead, put your effort in to making sure your team shares the same understanding and definition of the problem to be solved or the issue to be dealt with. It will be more productive and lay the foundation for stronger alignment.
Once you’ve reached common ground on the issues, of course there will be multiple ways to address them. There can certainly be more than one reasonable solution. But now when it comes to making a decision, it’s much easier to achieve consensus, even if there isn’t unanimous agreement that the best choice was made. You just need to make sure that most agree and the rest can live with it and move forward.