One Voice
Speaking with One Voice

One of the most important keys to congregational health and vitality--along with a clear purpose--is a cohesive leadership team.  Many of our UU congregations struggle with power and authority to a point where they don't empower leaders to lead, i.e. to make decisions in the best interest of the congregation's mission and shared vision. How well does  your congregation do? 

One indicator is how your board (and other committees) operate.  Are you able to speak with one voice even when there is some disagreement among committee members when making a decision?  Or do you always try to reach consensus?

“Speaking with one voice” means that everyone around the table can say “All of my concerns been heard and considered in this decision. I can support the process and decisions that have been made by the group and can represent the decisions that the group has come to as my own outside this room.” If someone on a committee cannot agree ahead of time to speak with one voice after everyone has been heard and a decision is made, then that person should not serve on that committee. 

There is an assumption that good, visionary leaders come in, not with an agenda ahead of time, but a willingness to make a decision that will help move the congregation forward in alignment with their mission toward their shared vision. This is different than consensus, which requires everyone to be in agreement with the decision.  Consensus tends to keep an institution in homeostasis because it is next to impossible to be visionary or innovative when you need 100% buy-in before making a decision.

Patrick Lencioni offers a great on-demand webinar on the inter-related topics of organizational health, purpose and cohesive leadership.

About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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