How to Create Consensus Around Your Vision
Leadership icon and author John Maxwell once said, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” And it’s true. When you’re working to create buy-in around an exceptional concept or solution, it pays to first establish leadership credibility and respect. That’s done in countless ways but, fundamentally, comes down to practicing the right habits that will drive positive change and produce results. Through this discipline, it’s then much easier to get consensus, using proven strategies that support that goal.
Here are three strategies you’ll want to use for creating consensus around your vision:
1. Teach People The “Why”
A lot of leaders make the mistake of forcing their vision, ideas and decisions on their staff. Sometimes they do this because they think it will save time or avoid pushback. However, in reality, this approach can really backfire, particularly if it’s done repeatedly. When people unwillingly commit to anything, they feel disingenuous and disempowered, which undermines motivation and, ultimately, positive performance and productivity. The way to avoid this is to teach people the reasons behind your grand ideas or vision. Share what you’ve learned or know, telling stories that communicate the benefits and purpose. Do this while building the buy-in as well as after the fact, as a way to reinforce its impact and success.
2. Encourage Questions And Feedback
To build buy-in and align people around your vision, give them the time and place to ask questions and provide feedback. Let them challenge you and even demand that they do so if there’s any shred of doubt as to whether it’s going to be best for all. This is critical because sometimes even the most experienced leaders don’t realize that by pursuing a particular direction, they could be adversely impacting other aspects of the organization or its goals. When questions aren’t encouraged, surfaced and answered, misunderstandings and mistakes are more likely to occur. When they are encouraged, problems are more likely to be averted and your people will naturally become more engaged and involved in developing solutions. In turn, this sense of involvement helps enable their ownership and buy-in for the vision.
3. Address The Roadblocks Of Consensus
Sometimes people disagree because of power struggles, personality conflicts, differences in values and experiences, fears, emotional baggage—or all of the above. As a leader, discernment around what’s happening and why it is happening is critical not just from the context of noticing the issues but also addressing the roadblocks. Take action and troubleshoot such issues, and the sooner the better. Not only does this have the potential to get your goal of creating alignment around your vision more likely but it also sends the message that you’re committed to problem solving, particularly when it matters most.