Consensus is Dangerous

Shawn Temple

Look around. Everywhere you look, there’s someone else. A person. People. Many people.

Ask them anything. Ask them about their favorite sports team, the best season of the year or the color of the sky. There will be all sorts of answers because there are all sorts of people.

As a wise person once said to me, it takes all kinds of people to make a world…and they all have different opinions. They have diverse thoughts and perspective and insights. It’s because they are people, and people love to give their opinions on pretty much anything.

That is, until they walk into your conference room and take their assigned seat.

Red Alert

You’ve seen it before - leaders and managers gather around a table for discussion, conversation, brainstorming or strategy. And this is critical stuff. After all, we’re talking about how to best move your credit union or community bank forward.

But too many people around the table don’t speak up. They often say very little, or they nod politely and agree with the boss’ opinion. When the discussion draws to a close, the team (and I use that term loosely) files out of the room with general direction based entirely on consensus.

This situation should trigger sirens and flashing red lights. Your inner voice should scream, “Danger! Danger! Stop!” Why?

Because consensus should never be the goal. Consensus is dangerous.

Fight Over Your Future

When teams make consensus-based decisions, it almost always points to a lack of good conflict or debate around an issue. The only way to ensure you end up with the best possible answer is to fully engage in healthy conflict. This means vetting every angle of each problem.

Without healthy conflict, you walk out of the room with an answer that:

  1. Is almost certainly not the best option available
  2. Was not properly vetted

As your credit union or community bank’s leader, you can’t let either of those things happen. Trust me: it’s worth the time and energy to fight over your institution’s future.


Take a Leap of Faith

If teams aren’t engaging in healthy conflict, it may indicate team members lack faith in each other. When there’s a lack of mutual trust, team members interest themselves more with guarding their silos than furthering the organization’s goals.

Of course, some teams have adequate trust and still struggle with healthy conflict. If this is the case, there are tools you can use to draw out others’ opinions and work out your conflict muscles. Perform these exercises until healthy conflict becomes a natural part of your team’s dynamic.

You’ll find the moment you learn to disagree a little more is the moment your credit union or community bank grows stronger.

Are you ready to find that moment? Launch your institution into a brighter future when you conduct organizational alignment training today.

Shawn Temple
Strategy Director
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