Committees Speak With A Single Voice-Leadership Tip

My Friday thoughts on leadership are targeting committees.

Most of us have no doubt served on a committee. These are groups of people brought together for a purpose. Sometimes it is a special occasion, for example organizing a reunion. Sometimes it is a standing committee formed to support a function or need of the organization. These might be trustees of an organization or marketing committee or finance.

Committees are rarely composed of only one person. Therefore when a committee meets several voices are heard. That is often why a committee is formed. Bringing in diverse points of view provides a better chance of finding the best solution to the problem that the committee is formed to solve.

When the committee decides, then it must speak with a single  voice. There may be members who do not agree with the majority. There may be background concerns or opinions. Whatever that may be, the committee must either report to the main body with one solution or tackle its work in a single direction.

That is where the leader’s role becomes crucial.

The reunion committee agrees on date, location, theme, entertainment, and the like. Then assignments are made to area leaders to get the various tasks done.

The finance committee must report its findings and recommendations to its governing board. The report cannot include the discussions and a variety of half-formed “concerns.” It must be specific in stating the problem and recommending actions.

The governing board leader and the committee leader must:

  • Clearly define and communicate the problem
  • Keep the committee discussions focused on solutions
  • Strive to focus on the business and not on personalities
  • Bring the committee to a decision regarding solution to the problem
  • Clearly communicate the solutions or actions needed to all concerned

If that last task is not done, then the work of the committee is subverted and desired actions will not be carried out. Argument and divisiveness grow in the organization. The problem festers.

We have all experienced the committee from hell where we drank lots of coffee and ate lots of doughnuts and talked endlessly (or maybe quietly checked email or Facebook while others talked on and on).

The good leader will keep things focused, minimize personalities, respect others’ time, and guide the group to a conclusion.

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