If there is one change you should make in your leadership today, it’s this:
Stop seeking consensus. Make a decision and move on.
Many of us have a tendency to avoid making a decision by continuing to talk about it. We think we can make more decisions if we just get everyone “on the same page” and have more meetings.
I’ve sat in these meetings, and the truth is, they’re not helping you. It’s time to stop.
But how? What’s the alternative?
No, we don’t need another discussion leader. We need leaders who commit to a decision and start moving the company in that direction.
For companies to see real change, we need leadership — not consensus.
Leadership in Action
Effective leadership isn’t about making everyone happy or making sure everyone agrees. It’s about choosing a goal and moving your company towards it.
I recently heard a (somewhat) funny leadership story about Henry Kissinger’s approach.
He’d assign his staff to research a particular subject and submit a written report. They’d come back with the report and he’d throw it back at them saying, “This is garbage! Do it again!” So, they’d go back and redo it.
When they’d bring back their second draft and he’d say, “This is horrible! Keep trying!” as he threw it back in their faces.
And so they’d come back with the third version and he’d say, “Is this the third one? Okay, now I’m going to actually read it.”
I am not advocating this approach, but I love his decisiveness. Even if Kissinger’s tactic was annoying and overly time-consuming, he was willing to challenge them and lead them to continually improve. He banked on the fact that it took at least three attempts to get their best work.
He made his decision and unapologetically stuck to it.
Why NOT to Seek Consensus
Why not opt for consensus instead?
Consensus is a warning.
When I find a company that’s asking for consensus on decisions, it warns me that leadership is lacking. Why?
Effective leadership is not about getting everyone to agree. It’s about getting people to follow.
Leaders must move in the direction they want companies to go.
There’s a lesson in dog-training about teaching a dog to follow. If you want your dog to follow you, keep walking. Don’t keep calling him. Just keep going and eventually he’ll want to know what you’re doing and will follow along.
No, I’m not saying to treat your employees like dogs! But the same principle to leading a company. Don’t keep asking your employees where they want to go or telling them where to move.
If you’re going to lead, start walking. If you stop and look back to see if people are following you, you’re doing it wrong.
If you keep moving, your team will catch up. As you move down the road to work on the next initiative, your employees will rush to get there so they can join this next great thing you’re doing. That’s what propels companies forward.
Will you make mistakes? Of course. But don’t let that stop you from moving in a decisive direction. If you make a mistake, change it. Then, keep moving.
Make a decision.
Make a mistake.
Lead them to the next place.
Quit waiting for consensus. Make the decision and move on. That’s leadership.