Consent is a charged word. You usually only hear about it when someone has filed a complaint with the HR department or someone has crossed a boundary they shouldn’t have crossed.
You may be wondering what does consent have to do with my work?
Consent is defined as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.”
An example of this might be, “no change may be made without the consent of all the partners.” Consensual leadership is about encouraging acceptance and agreement before actions are taken and this approach has never been more relevant considering the power differentials between leaders and teams.
We recently worked with a Board Chair of a well-known faith community who told us they had never consented to filling the role. She was told that it would be an interim position and that certain criteria would be met (a job description would be provided, regular reviews would happen, there would be administrative support, etc.). The model of governance allowed for her to be nominated without her consent, and she was voted in. She begrudgingly did the work, the criteria were never met, and she ended up serving a term of three years.
She admitted that she would have been more than willing to devote herself to fundraising and community development – activities that would have really lit her up – but no one asked her. By the time three years had passed, they were desperately trying to rebuild after the pandemic and critically needed someone focused on bringing in money and reaching out to the community. Unfortunately, it was too late. She was burned out and resigned.
We also work with married teams in our executive coaching program. We call it “Power Couples Coaching.” Unsurprisingly, sometimes issues that hinder these intimate relationships also affect the bottom line and their ability to turn toward each other, communicate effectively, and lead as a team.
In these cases, we find it useful to discuss consent in terms of how it affects the communication inside the household and the business (i.e. ill-timed business updates over dinner, or worse, during date night).
FRIES is an acronym for the elements of consent developed by Planned Parenthood to inform and educate young people about the importance of consent in relationships. Here’s what it looks like when applied to organizations.
And, enjoy the FRIES!
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ABOUT THE Author
Joran Slane Oppelt is an international speaker, author and consultant with certifications in coaching, storytelling, design thinking and virtual facilitation.