Master Class: Leading Executive Teams

Check out the PowerPoint presentation from the session and the recording of this discussion on Zoom. Here are our takeaways from the session!

Tips for Creating Consensus Among Your Leadership Teams

Tip 1: Create Space for Dialogue & Discussion (12:00-14:03)

Studies show that executive teams make over 500 decisions every day — everything from mundane office decisions to decisions that impact the trajectory of your organization. It’s exhausting! So, it’s important to create spaces of real dialogue and discussion to help you make effective decisions.

Tip 2: Understand Dialogue vs. Discussion (14:05-15:15)

Dialogue can help create common understandings about issues and examine underlying assumptions. Without it, the little things can blow up into massive misunderstandings.

Discussion can create outcomes to move forward. Without it, you can remain stuck or backpedal. Both aspects of leadership have a time and a place.

Use Dialogue to Lead into Discussion(15:15-16:54)

Dialogue is a strong exercise in listening. It doesn’t imply agreement or disagreement; it just focuses on surfacing topics. It helps you find connections, examine assumptions, and create shared meaning. In dialogue, you don’t need to reach an agreement, but you do need to seek to understand.

Discussion Creates Closure (16:55-24:10)

Discussion focuses on analytical thinking, seeking closure, and making decisions. Sometimes groups move too quickly to discussion from dialogue–or mix the two. This can result in decisions not sticking.

Pro Tip: The suffix cide means to discontinue or cut off. When deciding, we are ready to make a choice, cutting off all other options

Tip 3: Creating Psychological Safety for Decisions to Stick (24:10-25:45)

Sometimes people withhold their real opinions during the decision-making process, which can create chaos down the road. Creating spaces of safety helps people surface, articulate, and clarify how they feel about decisions. Before decisions can stick, they need buy-in and consensus.

Pro Tip: Decisions don’t stick because teams move to action by having thorough and honest dialogue with a clear understanding of outcomes.

3 Types of Consensus

There are three types of consensus:

  • Unanimous (100%) – Best for really important, long-standing decisions like core values.
  • Sufficient (80%) – This shows there is mostly consensus and that it’s coming from an honest place.
  • Split (50/50) –  Shows there is not enough consensus to make a decision that will stick.

2 Exercises to Help with Consensus and Buy-In

Exercise: Fist to Five (25:45-28:45)

In this simple exercise, people share their feelings about a topic by holding fingers or a first as demonstrated on slide 12 of the deck.

Pro Tip: If you need to create anonymity to get honest feedback, make copies of the deck and have people in the room anonymously circle how they truly feel about an issue. This helps gain insight and perspective discreetly.

Exercise: Censogram (28:45-47:00)

Another exercise to measure consensus is by using a Consensogram. This is a visual display where group members use sticky notes to vote on a scale of 0-100 about where they stand on the discussion.

Pro Tip: This creates a larger visual of where the group stands. It’s sometimes helpful to make predictions beforehand to see where perceptions and reality align.

Bonus – Use Pairs to Create Psychological Safety (43:10-45:00)

Sometimes people are still reluctant to speak up. The most psychologically safe group is a group of two people, because you can’t get left out of a pair.

Put people in groups of two and ask them about their hesitations and concerns, and then ask everyone to reflect them to the larger group. This allows people to feel heard and seen differently than in a larger group setting.

Reaching Alignment, Consensus, and Agreement

Finding alignment, consensus, and agreement will have profound downstream effects. Remember, decision-making isn’t always a linear process. If something isn’t working, return to dialogue. If you think something is being left unsaid, shift the environment to create more safety.

We hope this has been useful to you. Thanks for being part of our collective! We’ll be continuing to dive deeper into this rabbit hole and teach you strategies ad exercises that you can apply right away.

Peer Shared Tools for Leading Dialogue and Discussion



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