Mark Funkhouser a former Mayor of Kansas City has written an interesting post titled “Our Misguided Love Affair With Political Consensus”. Funkhouser states:

“Journalists seem to see the ability to build consensus as the epitome of political leadership, but in actuality political leadership almost never involves consensus. Consensus favors the status quo, not progress.”

Funkhouser’s point is great leaders that accomplish big items are polarizing figures not consensus builders. Recently I did an analysis of votes cast by the town board members where I reside (Tonawanda, NY), and I was shocked how few times members voted “no”. From 2008-2010 the Tonawanda Town Board voted on 3,179 items and during this three year period there were only 11 instances where any Town Board member voted “No”! In other words there were 3,168 instances of unanimous consensus. Seems like a whole lot of status quo to me.

I realize that the agenda of most local government meetings is pretty routine stuff but Funkhouser has a point. Leaders who are looking to challenge the status quo have many opportunities to vote “no” at a minimum. If you as a leader are serious about making a difference in your community then you have to be willing to address big controversial issues where strong opinions exist for and against change.

Do leaders have to be polarizing to make change happen or is building consesnsus where change happens?

About The Author

The definition of reinvent is:to replace with an entirely new version, to make over completely, to recast something familiar or old into a different form.In my opinion we need to reinvent government, business and ourselves. Today’s world is about constant change driven by the power of new ideas.For the past 17 years as an attorney, I have worked in government at the county, city, authority and school district level in the Buffalo, NY area. I have seen first hand the need for reinventing how government operates. For a period of four years, I served as Chief of Staff to the 9 member City of Buffalo Common Council. Government must engage the talents and skills of its citizens by becoming more collaborative and transparent in its decision-making and operations. Utilizing technology as a tool to engage citizens is something all governments need to explore.I have great respect for entrepreneurs as they put their passion into a vision, which results in new products, new services and new jobs. Entrepreneurs are on the front lines of change. As an adjunct college instructor, I see how students and everyone for that matter must continually change and reinvent themselves to survive and be successful in today’s crazy world economy.Some of my favorite change agent writers are Tom Peters, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel and Guy Kawasaki. I welcome the opportunity to meet new people, to further my own learning and to share ideas.On a personal note I am 47 years old, my other half Cheryl is an attorney in private practice and together we have three children, Michael age 20 and Joseph age 14 and our newest shock of an addition Julia, born 11/2/11.