The following is an excerpt from “The Leader Who Inspires – increase your influence and ignite your passion to succeed’. Chapter 8 – Don’t be a slave to consensus. It case studies a senior manager’s ability to embrace the intent of change without a complete and utter (mindless) commitment to every aspect of the change.
The Leader Who Inspires understands that total agreement
is never truly achieved between capable people –
there should be the freedom to speak freely as long as
an individual view doesn’t contradict the direction the enterprise is taking.
Candice, a senior manager, really enjoyed the planning workshop at the exotic resort. She was personally engaged and felt that the result provided clear direction for the organisation’s future. Candice was excited about the future possibilities for her company. However, she did not agree with two of the strategic objectives that were formulated. Those objectives were not the changes she wanted to see and she expressed her view firmly.
When influential people express their individual view as well as their commitment to the overall intent, you achieve legitimate buy-in to change.
She was, however, prepared to agree to the strategic intent in general terms and left the event enthusiastic about the way ahead. Candice is now responsible for telling her team about the outcomes of the planning event. In an environment where her CEO continually encourages authenticity, how was she to communicate her support for the future direction of the company? This is what Candice said to her management team:
“The outcomes of the strategic event are before you and they have my complete support. I really like the mission – it is accurate and concise. The vision is exactly what I wanted to see as the direction for the company. The seven strategic objectives I am mostly okay with. I personally think objectives six and seven dilute the impact of the vision.
“I expressed my concern to my colleagues, however, the consensus was that those last two objectives needed to be included. Now, while my personal view about those two objectives is different to the consensus, I will fully support the strategic direction of the company.
“As my team of advisors, I invite you to reflect on the outcomes of our event. Let’s talk at the next meeting about what you like and don’t like about the statements. Feel free to express your concerns because when we turn this document into real action to move towards the vision, I will need your full support. I am prepared to support the strategic direction including the two objectives I don’t think fit and I will expect you to do the same.
“The challenge for us is to transform our company’s vision into a successful reality. It will involve time and effort but I need you strongly engaged or it simply will not work.”
Note how the CEO has established an environment of authenticity that enables a leader like Candice to accept a consensus view and remain true to herself by communicating what she thinks about the strategic direction. Her management team are then able to do the same.
From the CEO’s perspective:
- Has Candice in any way undermined the result of the strategic planning event? No!
- Is it clear that Candice fully supports her CEO? Yes!
- Would people see Candice as an authentic person in the way she communicated the strategic direction? Yes, absolutely!
Where such an open, creative culture does not exist, you can be sure there are many people giving lip service to the strategic direction with little impactful activity to make the vision a reality.
The Leader Who Inspires should give the team the latitude to express their personal viewpoint openly as long as they remain committed to achieving the overall intent of what has been agreed.
Dan Jackson ‘The Leader Who Inspires‘
Embracing the future is not about blind agreement, it’s about commitment.