BUY-IN: Do you have it?

In the past few weeks, we have been reflecting on the importance of buy-in and wanted to share a few thoughts. You’ve likely all heard that in relationships and in working with teams of people, it’s important to gain buy-in. However, have you ever truly assessed how good you are personally at promoting and seeking buy-in?

Several years ago a professor at Indiana – Kelley School of Business shared something that has really stuck with me over time. It was the following equation:

Level of Success = Value of the Idea X Level of Buy-in

So, if we have an Idea that is a “10”; however, only have a Buy-in of “1”, then the Level of Success is only a “10”. Vice versa, an Idea of a “1” with a Buy-in of “10” is still a “10”.

What I frequently see is businesses, organizations, and individuals having some really great ideas; however, they don’t take the time to stop and seek buy-in. They tend to be so excited about “their idea” that they get out in front of their teams without ever truly seeking input. In multiple studies, we see that what people value most is that they have an opportunity to contribute and are being heard. When we don’t take the time to allow this with our ideas, we are sabotaging them from the get-go.

Looking at it from a bit of a different prospective, seeking buy-in is a form of promoting win-win relationships. If we focus on relationships in general, a critical component of mature relationships is “trust”. We have written in the past about the importance of trust and encourage you to review prior post. Today, we want to highlight a basic principle which is: Communication => Trust => Relationship. Thus, if we’re looking to have win-win relationships and promote buy-in, one of the most important factors in doing so is to increase our level of communication.

So, it’s really pretty simple…right? If we want to increase buy-in and have successful outcomes, we simply need to talk about our ideas openly and seek other peoples input. Not that simple? If not, what’s getting in your way? Well, let us elaborate on a few things we see getting in the way.

Time – Much like anything having to do with relationships and people, it takes time to go out and promote buy-in. Sometimes we are in crisis, and leaders truly don’t have time to promote buy-in. They simply need to execute and deal with the consequences after the fact. That being said, I believe these situations to be few and far between. What one has to realize is that if you’re truly focused on “time”, the more time you take upfront to communicate an idea, seek input, and promote buy-in, the more effective you’ll be in execution. Thus, the total time is much less in the big picture.

Confidentiality – Many times, the ideas we have may be confidential in nature and we don’t want our entire organization or team to find out premature. This is very legitimate in many situations. What must exist in these situations is that you still have an inner circle with whom you are communicating and promoting buy-in. This inner circle needs to spend considerable time mapping out a strategy to gain buy-in with the rest of the organization prior to premature “leaks” starting to happen. There are tactical ways of soliciting buy-in from the rest of the organization without raising flags which we don’t have the time to get into at this point. The emphasis here is simply that buy-in is still critical and you must have a strategy to deal with it.

Self-Awareness – You may think this is somewhat of a tangent, however, stick with me on this one. Most new ideas mean “change”. Human nature is to resist “change”. Thus, we have to help people come to the realization themselves that “change” needs to happen. So, in order to promote buy-in, we must promote within our relationships a “self-awareness” that change is necessary. Working with teams, this is typically done by going in upfront and performing an assessment with the group. This assessment is used to promote “self-awareness”. Then, the assessment becomes the basis for a need for change and new ideas which leads to communication which leads to buy-in. Our reasoning for adding “self-awareness” to the list is that many leaders lead with why THEY feel change is necessary which can place their teams on the defense. It’s always better for people to come to the conclusion change is necessary versus being told it’s necessary.

Through 20+ years of leadership experience, I can’t over emphasize the importance of buy-in. It really goes back to John Maxwell’s comment “He who thinketh he leadeth and has no one following him is only taking a walk.” If you don’t have anyone following, you’ve failed to promote buy-in along the way.

So, ultimately, our goal should be to create Ideas that are a “10” with a Buy-in of “10” which exponentially increases our Level of Success to “100”. When this happens, your business, organization, or relationships will truly experience a level of success beyond your imagination.

If today’s message has been helpful or you’d like to further discuss buy-in and resources we can provide, please drop us a note. We always love to hear from our followers and know that we’re providing value.

Have a fantastic day!


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