Consensus Or Input — Clarity For Your Meetings
When inviting feedback from a group, are you seeking consensus or just input?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto®
Knowing what you want, and communicating that expectation to the group, is an important task for a leader to do well.
Many leaders invite dialogue from a group of people, as if they’re looking for consensus among the group for a decision. But in reality, the leader only wants their input, not their consensus. This is often done unintentionally but it can be a fatal leadership mistake.
The group hears a leader say, “I want unanimity amongst all of you.” But then the leader leaves the group, goes back to his/her office, considers their opinions, and declares a decision on his or her own.
Seeking feedback and input in order to reach a decision point is perfectly fine, but only if the people from whom you sought feedback know what role their feedback is going to have.
A leader must be clear about what they desire from the groups they’re dialoguing with.
Consider one of these opening comments at your next group-think sessions:
“I need to reach a decision. I’ll ultimately make the final call, but your input would help me formulate my decision. Will you provide me feedback?”
“I value and trust your opinions, and I want your help in reaching a decision. Whatever the consensus of this group is when we leave is the action I’ll take.”
I think either statement is appropriate for a leader to make, but let the group know their role in the decision making process.
Another serious leadership gaff is to provide a group the opportunity to give feedback for a decision you’ve already made. At best, it’s poor relational intelligence. At worst, it’s lying.
If you’re going to make a decision unilaterally, that’s fine, but own up to it.
Practical Takeaways for everyday church leadership:
- When seeking input, be transparent with your intentions.
- Don’t ask for input if you’re not going to use it or at least consider it.
- If you’re making your decisions Lone Ranger style, own up to it.