You have a brilliant idea and you can’t wait to share it with your team. You can already see the results and dream of the impact. You call the meeting of your captains, lieutenants, VP’s, directors and/or managers with a stage set that you have something very exciting to share. You know that you need everyone on the team pulling in the same direction to realize success.
Everyone gathers and you launch into sharing your idea with enthusiasm, expecting it to ignite the others in the room. As you are finishing up, you look around the room for buy-in.
Grumpy Gus is sitting there with arms crossed and slouched down in the chair muttering under his breath to no one in particular; Nancy Naysayer has been lining up objections that she has been sitting on the edge of her chair waiting to voice; Peter Pennypincher is already calculating what this will cost, Whirligig Wendy is already thinking about all the work this will create; Simon Yes-man has been in full agreement nodding at everything you said - and not to be missed is the elephant in the room with their own agenda being set, usually counter to yours.
There is no buy-in.
Creating buy-in for new ideas, concepts and initiatives may be one of the toughest jobs of a leader. Your sales skills on selling to your group go far beyond your presentation and require you to know the motivators, concerns and most of all the personality of your group. Yesterday, we talked about WII FM – What’s in it For Me, which will be very important in creating buy-in. However, with a group such as the one described, who are positioned in leadership roles, you will probably find that status and accomplishment are often more important than individual rewards. They also do not want to be embarrassed or a party to failure.
The positioning we described above is just that, positioning. It will exist until there is a reason to leave that position behind. In creating buy in, we must create an alternative role that is desired, challenging and has its own spotlight if executed well. The role must have a title and a voice. Mutual respect, that can be earned and grown, must be given. The person must be challenged to be a leader and not a soldier or spectator. They must have something meaningful to do and accomplish.
It will be your job to transfer ownership for success and the fear of failure for at least their component part. All roles need to be seen as vital to the accomplishment of the mission. Your position and role actually grows as a reflection of the success of others.
Finally, you do need to create milestones, check points and opportunities for them to tell not only you, but others as well, of the success accomplished. A group like this is often driven by peer recognition of their efforts far more than what you can say or do as an individual. It is a strong form of accountability.
As buy-in is created and people see themselves in roles with responsibility that are important, the old characters fade away taking the negative energy with them and breathing life and energy into the internal and often external components of the launch.