Commit or Separate


A general rule I have for high-performance teams is what I call the commit-or-separate rule. Every team member either commits to the mission, or leaves the team.

Most decisions made in a team are not based on consensus. They are usually made by a leader (functional or organizational), and usually through a consultative process.

(1) Agree and Commit. If you, as a team member, agree with the decision, then it is easy (and essential) to commit to making the plan associated with the leader's decision as successful as possible.

(2) Disagree and Commit. As you might expect, a few team members might not agree with the leader's decision. However, they might believe in the team or the leader enough that they will still commit to working to make sure the plan from the leader's decision is executed as successfully as possible.

(3) Disagree and grumble. If a team member disagrees with the leader's decision, and he does not commit to it, he can choose to grumble about it... and anytime there is a setback in the execution, he'll say "see, I told you so!"... and grumble some more.

(4) Disagree and Separate. If a team member disagrees with the leader's decision, and he could leave the team. This is a good outcome, at least from the point of view that you now have a team that is fully committed to the success of the mission.

(1), (2), and (4) are the only states that high-performance teams should have. Why? You want a team fully committed to the success of the mission.

As a leader, your job is to drive team commitment to agree and commit, disagree and commit, or disagree and separate.

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