How to Build Consensus 

Leadership icon and author John Maxwell once said, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” It’s true. When you’re working to create buy-in around an exceptional new concept or solution, it pays to establish leadership credibility and respect before you ask people to come on board. Credibility can be built in countless ways, but consensus comes down to a genuine trust in your leadership.

Building the right habits and earning trust will drive positive change. Once you have, it’s much easier to get your team to believe in the goals you set, and start effectively building toward those solutions.

Here are three strategies for creating consensus:

Teach people the “why.”
A lot of leaders make the mistake of forcing goals, ideas, and decisions on their staff. Sometimes they push too hard because they think it will save time or avoid pushback. However, in reality, this approach usually backfires, particularly if it’s done multiple times. When people unwillingly commit to a goal, they feel disingenuous and disempowered, which undermines motivation and, ultimately, ruins positive performance and productivity. Take the time to explain the reasons behind your grand vision and strategy. Share what you’ve learned, including statistics or reports that back up your ideas, and tell stories that communicate the benefits and purpose of your ultimate goals. Doing this is like inviting your team to buy-in and make your goals their goals, and to reinforce its impact and success.

Encourage questions and listen to feedback.
To build buy-in and align people around your vision, give them the freedom to ask questions and provide feedback. Let them challenge you! In fact, you should encourage them to do so, especially if there’s any shred of doubt as to whether it’s going to be best for all. This is critical because even the most experienced leaders can miss things. Your vision might be fabulous, but you don’t realize that by pursuing it, you could be adversely impacting other aspects of your organization or its goals. When questions aren’t encouraged and answered, misunderstandings and mistakes are more likely to occur. When questions and feedback is encouraged, you can avoid bit problems and your people will naturally become more engaged and involved. In turn, that enthusiasm and involvement will increase their ownership and buy-in for your vision.

Address the roadblocks of consensus.
Every workplace has power struggles, personality conflicts, differences in values and experiences, fears, emotional baggage — or all of the above. As a leader, your ability to discern what’s happening and why it is happening is critical, not just from the context of solving issues but also to address the roadblocks at their source. Take action to troubleshoot such issues; the sooner the better. Not only will this help your goal of creating alignment around your vision, it also sends a message that you’re committed to problem solving, especially when it matters most.

 How do you get employees excited about your vision?

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