"If you want to give your team a say or make them a part of a decision, you've got to decide upfront how you're going to make the decision. If you want to give them a say, you just ask for their input, then you make the decision. But if you want to make them a part of the decision, either let them vote on it or ask them to reach a consensus. But remember, the decision-making dynamic you choose is going to change the whole team dynamic.
If the choice is theirs, they've got to agree. So they're going to debate and negotiate and then settle on something everyone can live with. But if the choice is yours, they don't have to agree with each other, and their behavior is going to be much more impartial.
Consensus decisions are the hardest decisions to pull off because consensus relies on healthy disagreement and spirited debate, and you need a high-functioning team to do that.
Reality is, we're not all leading high-functioning teams. In fact, some of the teams we pull together and want to include on a decision are ad hoc teams that are just coming together. If you own the decision, if you're accountable, your best approach is to seek input, not consensus, and you sure don't want to put it to a vote.
If it's a big decision, you want to get different opinions. But if you put it to a vote, people are going to vote in their best interests. And if you try to reach consensus, you risk groupthink or an outcome that you're not comfortable with.
If you want to give people a say in a decision, get them in a room together and hear them out at the same time, so everyone can hear what you hear. Then they're going to understand whatever decision you arrive at much better. Remember, you don't always need consensus - you need commitment. People don't have to agree with your decision, but they have to commit to it. And those are two different things. Consensus is a decision the group can live with, but if you're accountable, you need a decision that you can live with."
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