Make no mistake that small, passionate teams are responsible for most any remarkable impact on the world. After all, it’s these potent groups that go to the moon, change industries, and save lives on the operating table. Small, high performance groups are often able to have such success because of uniquely powerful purpose and curated talent. Yet, they also are susceptible to a troubling phenomenon that can stifle potential.
This impediment to greatness is consensus.
Consider the stage set by these groups. There are high levels of connectivity and passion that, combined with the intimate size of the group, can lead to an assumption that the group must all agree on decisions in order to make them. This is unequivocally not true.
Consensus is neither important nor effective for high levels of performance. The myth of consensus is something we objectively know isn’t required outside of intimate, family-like groups in any circumstance, as well. After all, elections of any kind ignore the need for consensus. Can you imagine if we waited until we agreed on the next president?
The need for consensus is a dangerous killer of performance in high performance groups because it slows action and it diffuses personal responsibility. The irony, in fact, is that small teams operating at the fringes of peak performance need to surgically move quickly and decisively, which is fundamentally at odds with needing everyone to agree with every action. Not only is a need for consensus too slow, it’s characteristically more difficult to iterate and improve if everyone must be in agreement about a strategy because when failures do happen everyone is seemingly responsible, which ultimately means no one is responsible. SEE: diffusion of responsibility.
Before we address how high performance teams are supposed to maneuver without consensus, let’s clearly articulate why they are uniquely positioned to do so in the first place. While it may seem counter intuitive, these teams are most ripe for leading initiatives without a slow, ineffective need for consensus because of the elements that make such teams unique. Members of high performance teams are generally more capable individuals with exceptional craft mastery, which allows for individuals to rotate in leadership on the fly more easily than low performance groups. These team members are better fit to be accountable to their responsibilities. All members of a team can be followers. High performance teams have more people that can also lead. In addition, small, high performance teams tend to have a stronger sense of purpose than other teams. It’s with this connection to purpose that individual members can see past their own individual opinions to support a difference of opinion inside the group and charge forward regardless.
How does a passionate, family-like team maneuver effectively without consensus? It’s simple. They double down on accountability and velocity in decision making. Culturally these teams need results. Surely they need results (like victories, bottom line growth, market share, high ground, etc.) more than they need consensus, so let’s not confuse what’s important here. Furthermore, these teams need an environment where the best strategies to get results are brought to the forefront. Rather than search for consensus, these teams need to put the best people and the best ideas in position to take action and be accountable to those actions immediately whether everyone agree with their decisions or not. This specifically increases accountability for decision makers and velocity of decision-making.
Founder of Bridgewater Associates, Ray Dalio, famously coined the term believability as the means by which opinions are weighted in his business. This means that everyone can vote, per se, but the most believable opinions have the most weight. Believability is a known track record of success in the relevant lane if decision-making.
For a high performance team looking to be agile and powerful in decision-making that doesn’t require consensus, it’s important to quickly enroll a responsible party (with or without team consensus) to tackle the strategy to the best of his/her abilities. This is where ultimate accountability to the results will reside and the team can make moves without waiting for everyone to come to agreement before taking action.
Want to put your consensus busting leadership to the test? Make your next team decision with believable delegation and see if the team can get behind action without universal consensus for the strategy.
DEUCE ATHLETICS GPP
Make 3 attempts of the following:
Max Distance Front rack KB Carr
**Every 10m complete 6 DBl KB Swings
Then, AMRAP 10
6 Dbl KB Push Presses (53/35)
10 KB Rev Lunges
DEUCE BACKLOT GPP
Complete 6 rounds of the following complex for quality:
1 1-Arm DB Swing – Left
1 1-Arm DB Clean – Left
1 1-Arm DB Snatch – Left
2 1-Arm DB Push Jerk – Left
DEUCE GARAGE GPP
Odd: 2 Box Jumps (AHAP)
Even: 3 Max Effort Ball Slams
Complete 3 rounds for quality of:
20 Sumo Banded Pull Throughs
Then, every 2 minutes for 10 minutes, complete the following for calories:
:30 Max Row/Bike