Being the leader of an association is different than being the leader of a company – especially your own company. Sure, there are leadership qualities that all good leaders possess. Qualities we have discussed in the blog before like: passion, motivation, strategic-thinking, and more.
However, in most companies the leader also is the final decision maker. The buck stops with them, so to speak.
In associations, the leader doesn’t make the final decision. Decisions are made by a group of leaders through a process called consensus.
Consensus is the art of not just giving all parties an opportunity to express their opinion, but actually getting all parties to express their opinions; debating the issue; considering all sides; and finally developing a conclusion based on all input.
Associations have to make decisions through consensus because they are membership organizations. They are not owned by a limited number of shareholders.
Leaders of companies, on the other hand, do not have to gain input from all parties prior to making a decision. However, the best leaders DO. They build consensus within their company prior to making the final decision. Why do they do this if they don’t have to? It’s part of the culture they want their company to have; its about the team, not the individual. Great leaders don’t view themselves as more important than any other member of the team. The consensus process enables them to involve their team members at a more meaningful level in decision making.
Many great leaders have also mastered another art – the art of making everyone else think their input into the decision was the deciding factor.
Do leaders you work with involve others in the decision making process? Do they build consensus?