Internet endeavors have proved that collaboration and consensus works and can be very profitable. There is much education can learn from those enterprises. Consensus is an agreement that is acceptable to all parties and addresses the interests of all parties. Consensus leadership is the intentional conscience decision to lead not alone, but to collaborate. In education, consensus leadership means a principal has to enlist the support of the entire faculty and support staff.
Why bother? There is a proverb that states two heads are better than one. Consensus leadership allows for many heads. Education is a complex mission and with accountability, any weakness becomes apparent. Complexity and addressing weaknesses requires a team of people. Consensus leadership allows combined knowledge, expertise, and experience of all stakeholders to become the focus. Long lasting change and fostering positive school environments does not happen with dictatorships and bully styles. It happens when staff respect each other’s ideas and knowledge from the cafeteria worker to the principal.
Developing deep levels of professional trust and openness encourages collaborative site management of a facility. Decisions come with explanations of the process and law. A process has to be in place on how to reach agreement. Discussion and finding solutions for problems that provide a win on both sides are best. Policies are established and tried, but are regularly reviewed and adjustments made accordingly. It involves listening to colleagues and students. Programs that decide what is best for all rather than one controlling group generally are accepted easier.
Success never relies on one person especially in education. Equally, failures are never because of one factor. It takes the insight of a veteran educator with the freshness of a new educator guided by administrators who listen to find real solutions to education problems. Education is about changing behavior. It is a constant road of breaking habits and forming better ones. Learning really is not about answers, but about asking questions and talking. Consensus allows it.