Many groups choose to use consensus process because they want an alternative to the organizational model in which the “leaders” decide everything. They seek a more horizontal structure which honors everyone’s contribution.
These good intentions often result in one or more of the following, unhelpful scenarios:
- Inhibition. Members are afraid to speak their mind or make proposals because they do not want to be seen as “taking control.” So they hold back and the group muddles along without the benefit of their insights and opinions.
- Lack of inhibition. Members who are accustomed to “being in charge” in other contexts continue to behave as if they are the anointed leaders. Often unaware of the ways they shut others out of the process, they speak forcefully, listen little and assume that they are “right.”
The real promise of consensus is not that it creates “leaderless groups” but that it fosters groups that are FULL OF LEADERS.
To learn more about what consensus is and how to use it effectively, download IIFAC’s free Guide to Consensus Process