Edinger’s Monthly Insights – August 2018


For Alignment Don’t Confuse “Consensus” With “Unanimous”

I see leaders waste a lot of time, energy, and effort in business trying to create harmonious decisions that everyone on the team agrees with. I’m not suggesting an autocratic approach as the alternative, but too often, leaders mistakenly push for a unanimous decision rather than a consensus decision. Consensus reflects a judgment or agreement by a majority of those involved. Unanimous decisions require everyone to agree.

When it comes to aligning a leadership team, getting a unanimous decision may drag out decisions until they don’t matter anymore, or result in a non-decision. Either way, good ideas languish and the winner is the status quo.

So avoid the trap of trying to make everyone happy about decisions. Instead, drive alignment with consensus on the problem that needs to be solved or issue to be addressed. As Charles Kettering once said, “a problem well-stated is half-solved.”

Leaders frequently spend too little time defining the issue and too much time arguing over alternatives. Instead, put your effort into making sure your team shares the same understanding and definition of the problem to be solved or the issue to be dealt with. It will be more productive and lay the foundation for stronger alignment.

Once you’ve reached common ground on the issues, of course, there will be multiple ways to address them. There can certainly be more than one reasonable solution. But now when it comes to making a decision, it’s much easier to achieve consensus, even if there isn’t a unanimous agreement that the best choice was made. You just need to make sure that most agree and the rest can live with it and move forward.

Bonus Feature

My latest article for Harvard Business Review shows how leveraging video conferencing can be your secret weapon for productivity and increased effectiveness.

Last week I spoke at Avnet Integrated’s annual conference in Miami Beach. Leaders from around the world kicked off their fiscal year by focussing on how the sales team executes the strategy for the business and creates value on sales calls.

A Slice of Life Balance

Breathing fresh air is underrated and underutilized, both as a form of immediate stress relief and in its ability to promote clear thinking. When you feel stress, anger, or fear start to build, step outside for a moment. Breathe into a count of 3, hold for a count of 2, and exhale slowly to a count of 6. Try that for a minute and see if your perspective shifts. If it helps, try using this technique 2-3 times a day. Two to three minutes of mindful breathing can make a major difference for both your health and your mental state.

“I look forward to Scott’s newsletter every month. When I was the commander of a 1400-person battalion in Korea, his words were always right what I needed at the moment. They are as applicable as ever today.”

Aimee DeJarnette
Colonel, U.S. Army

Edinger Consulting