Can You Detect a Consensus Leadership Mindset?

Consensus-Leadership-MindsetCan you detect a consensus leadership mindset? Your employees can.

Working for a consensus-minded leader certainly has its advantages, but I’ve seen many problems arise when leaders succumb to consensus driven leadership.

Leaders who are too democracy oriented consistently struggle to make decisions, especially on issues where the team’s view is split. Their tentativeness often encourage organizational stagnation and overarching employee frustration.

Consensus-style leaders tend to agree with everyone in meetings, making excessive attempts to acknowledge each participant’s views. You’ve probably seen this at some point in your career, if not, in the media. Trying to give everyone a positive response takes peacekeeping to a new level, as not every idea has merit or weight. Praising every comment strains credulity and sets the stage for misdirection and misunderstandings.

As these leaders work overtime to provide affirmation, they may unconsciously exhibit subtle sullen behavior or give people the silent treatment. These passive behaviors may stem from resentment, notes Berit Brogaard, PhD, in 5 Signs That You’re Dealing with a Passive-Aggressive Person (Psychology Today, Nov. 13, 2016). Democratic leaders who regularly ignore their preferences or blindly favor team harmony are likely to develop some passive-aggressive tendencies.

Passive-aggressive behavior also surfaces when consensus-style leaders fail to fulfill their commitments. Saying “yes” to a request just to keep the peace often results in an unspoken “no,” later to be conveniently attributed to “forgetfulness.” Consensus-minded leaders resist suggested changes and are stubborn about initiating them. They want to keep everyone comfortable because it seems to make people happy, and this is their tacit goal.

Peacekeeping leaders seem overly settled and appreciative when disagreements are resolved and will look dismayed or pained when conflicts continue. They make noble efforts to mediate and return the group to harmony, without assigning blame. They may hesitate when asked for their personal viewpoint, making conflict resolution awkward, if not ineffective.

Consensus-driven leaders will deflect attention, preferring to shine the spotlight on their people. They’re uncomfortable with traditional levels of power or control and become distressed when issuing firm orders. They try to direct with softer skills and inspire their people with an uplifting, positive approach, making subtle requests seem as harmless as possible. Many democratic leaders prompt their people to volunteer for tasks so no objectionable assignments need to be doled out.

What do you think? Can you detect a consensus leadership mindset? How do you navigate passive-aggressive behavior? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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