The Power of Buy-in

Recently, I found myself in a conversation that reminded me of a story I often tell during the course of a coaching relationship.  It centers around “the power of buy-in” versus the “value of a good idea”.

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a business seminar.  I never will forget the old guy standing at the flip chart in the front of the room asking us to consider the “value of buy-in”.  He said, “Let me ask you something.  What’s more important, the value of an idea or the buy-in of your team to that idea?”  You see, we live in a world where everyone is trying to find the next “great idea” and people want to be recognized for “their” idea.  At the time, myself and others in the room rated the value of a great idea significantly higher than the “buy-in” of our team to that idea.  Well, we were wrong!

Using a scale of 1 -10, let’s say you have an idea that is a 10; however, you only have a 1 with regard to buy-in from your team.  Well, 10 x 1 = 10 which isn’t particularly bad; however, misses the full potential of the team by a long shot.  Now, vice versa, let say you have an idea that’s only a 1; however, you have a buy-in of 10 from your team.  Again, 1 X 10 = 10 which is the same as having an idea that’s a 10 without buy-in.  Yes, you can have an idea that’s low in value, however, have a team who’s fully behind their leader inspired to make it happen that will yield positive results.

Applying this teaching to our everyday leadership, one of the traps I see in leaders is that they come into situation having a lot of tremendous ideas for change; but, they far underestimate the multiplication factor of buy-in.  Why?  Well, it’s normally that buy-in takes time.  Buy-in centers around building trust in relationships and a willful followers that doesn’t happen overnight.  Buy-in also takes our letting go of our ideas and giving priority to implementing the teams ideas.  Yes, I encourage leaders to go out of their way to seek and implement ideas of their team members.

Additionally, while you can’t be manipulative and still must maintain integrity in doing so, if I have an idea which I believe to be a 10, I’ll do everything in my power to attempt to make that idea one of my team member’s ideas.  Once your team sees their members ideas being implemented, there is a natural buy-in that begins to transpire and snowballs exponentially.  There is a bit of art to this process and it’s a skill that comes with maturity in leadership.

Now, let’s look back at that math equation.  Let’s now consider that we have a high performance team fully bought into their leadership (10 on our scale).  Then, let’s suppose that someone, or even you as the leader, has an idea that is a 10.  Well, 10 x 10 = 100 which is exponentially better than either of the scenarios discussed earlier.  Yes, teams with a high level of buy-in and great ideas are exponentially higher performers.

How are you doing on buy-in?  It’s never too late to begin to shift your focus toward creating it within your team.  As always, I’d love to aid in the assessment of your team and do what I can to help.

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