In last week’s blog post we took a detailed look at some of the pros and cons to a consensus-style leadership within an organization. It became clear that while there are some positive aspects to this style of leadership, after a period of time these benefits slowly become the root of many issues associated with consensus-style leadership. This week we’ll be looking at how employees can spot a consensus style mindset in leadership, and potentially avoid getting themselves into a negative situation down the road.
Detecting a Consensus Mindset
Employees can easily spot behaviours to which consensus-driven leaders may succumb. Problems are sure to arise if too many of these signs are prevalent.
Leaders who consistently struggle to make decisions, especially on issues where the team’s view is split, are too democracy oriented. Their tentativeness often encourages 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. 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 behaviour or give people the silent treatment. These passive behaviours may stem from resentment, notes Berit Brogaard, PhD, in 5 Signs That You’re Dealing with a Passive-Aggressive Person. Democratic leaders who regularly ignore their preferences or blindly favour team harmony are likely to develop some passive-aggressive tendencies.
Passive-aggressive behaviour 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.
Hopefully this week’s blog post has given you some concrete signs to look for when it comes to spotting consensus-style leaders. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.