How can leaders foster commitment?
As we saw last week, productive conflict in a team is not only a bad thing, it is actually a necessary thing. Some leaders believe that, if they have to make the ultimate decisions anyway, why not save time and energy and just go straight to making the call themselves? But Lencioni argues that you can’t get Commitment if you haven’t gone through Conflict.
So, a leaders role is to provoke constructive conflict in order to then make that ultimate call and gain the commitment of the team. There can be no buy in without the weigh in. Weighing in, however, is not the same as achieving consensus. Trying to achieve consensus often leads to a diluted late decision that is mutually disagreeable to everyone. Did you ever hear the one about the camel? It’s what you get when you try to design a horse by consensus!
However, if people haven’t had a chance to put forward their views and hear why their ideas are or are not being adopted, then you are likely to get reluctant commitment. These are the folks that half help the cause but don’t give it their full effort or those that see the train crash about to happen but do nothing to intervene and then even enjoy the ‘I never liked the idea’ moment.
Obviously the leader will, after a reasonable amount of discussion time, need to make a call. It is important at this stage to give proper, public feedback to all contributions and explain the rationale for going either with or against each suggestion. This is what Lencioni calls “breaking the tie”. So even if some team members feel that their suggestion wasn’t adopted, they still feel heard and their position understood.
Then the team needs to “disagree and commit”. Not an easy feat, but once dealt with bravely and delicately, it is very effective.
Once commitment is achieved for a project, your team is ready for the Accountability phase, which is the theme of next weeks’ post.