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Communications Intelligence: Gaining Buy-In

Buy-in shifts from being about selling your idea to more of a collaborative and co-creative process when leaders are able to perform at their highest level. Everyone might feel much more invested in the outcome because it encourages conversation and proactive debate. Shared visions may be seen as maps with a variety of successful paths.

How Can I Get Genuine Buy-In to Support my Vision?

Most leaders will tell you that their most important asset is their people. In order to move an initiative forward or to achieve any big goal, you first need to gain buy-in from the people on your team. To do that, you need to know how to inspire others to support your vision. Inspiring people isn’t just about saying motivational words and hoping people will be moved enough to follow you. You have to connect with them on a deeper level and get to the root of who they are, their aspirations, and their values, and then link that information to the bigger picture. In doing so, you empower them to unleash their full potential and contribute to something they’re sincerely excited about and motivated by. Setting a new course helps leaders to overhaul mission, vision, values and revitalize its organizational culture. To achieve this, an outside culture consultant can help to ensure that the process avoids common pitfalls. You can check out our Compeling Future Program.

In a significant long-term study, businesses with the strongest corporate cultures, which supported all-around leadership activities, and which highly valued their staff, clients, and owners had revenue increases of 682%. Companies without a strong corporate culture saw only a 166 percent increase in revenue over the same evaluation period of 11 years. This implies that a strong corporate culture generates more than four times the growth in revenue. An organization that focuses on developing its company culture and increasing employee engagement will reap the rewards of more income, higher productivity, and higher employee engagement. Business culture and employee engagement go hand in hand.

To have an aligned team, there must be a high-level understanding of the individuals making it up and the strengths and weaknesses they bring to the table. KeenAlignment’s Emergent Culture Readiness Leadership Benchmark is a way to comprehensively and thoroughly examine the core competencies and gaps of your leadership team and the individuals that make it up.

Getting to the root of who people are, their aspirations, and how their values tie into the big picture is work that requires leaders to authentically know themselves first and to be able to communicate their vision in a way that generates curiosity and excitement all while being skillful in managing conflict. Margaret Graziano is CEO of KeenAlignment and author of the best-selling book Ignite Culture. With decades worth of experience working with dozens of organizations, she knows what it takes for a vision and company to get the kind of buy-in needed to be successful. It requires them to grow and transform from the inside, out. In her book Ignite Culture, she writes,

“If you want leaders and managers to tap into people’s highest level of intelligence, they need to learn to understand their people’s drivers, why they said yes to the job, and their vision for their career. These things must be explored in an atmosphere of trust and respect. Liberating Structures need to be put in place with plenty of regular training and role-playing to show both veteran and new employees as well as managers how these structures work and how to use them effectively in the everyday work environment. This is how an organization’s human system moves from routine to genius.”

When leaders are able to operate at this level buy-in becomes less like selling your vision and more like collaboration and co-creation. It invites discussion, and proactive debate, and allows everyone to feel even more invested in the outcome. Shared visions can potentially be viewed as maps with many different routes to success.

Why Does a Perspective Shift of Buy-In Matter?

Opening your vision up to people with diverse thought patterns generates better ideas, even if it allows room for opinions and objections. In his book, Buy-In, Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter explains the importance of gaining others’ support in order to create real institutional change: “Buy-in is critical to making any large organizational change happen. Unless you win support for your ideas, from people at all levels of your organization, big ideas never seem to take hold or have the impact you want.” We have known this to be the case and we have many methods of negotiating buy-in that can feel like selling and lack alignment with the Noble Cause of your vision. Leaders have to recognize that their people want to have an invested interest in personal and organizational growth, and they might see the big picture in a different hue.

Although it can be challenging Kotter acknowledges that getting genuine buy-in will require a degree of disagreement and even conflict. “Conflict engages,” he says. “If people have no opinions, no objections, and no emotions, it usually means they don’t care. And you’ll be hard-pressed getting their help when you have to actually implement your idea. But conflict shakes people up and gets them to pay attention in a novel way. This gives you the opportunity to say why your idea really is valuable and explain it in a way that wins over hearts and minds – securing their commitment to implementing the solution.” People will usually be more inclined to buy-in with their hearts and minds if their values align with the vision and culture of the company.

Gaining genuine buy-in requires a skill set that is not inherent in our current culture. At KeenAlignment we specialize in liberating the human spirit to create thriving organizational cultures through culture workshops and leadership development programs. We partner with small and medium-sized businesses across all industries to build healthy, intentional, and high-performance organizations that are capable of having the kind of transparent and difficult conversations that genuine buy-in and overall success require.

We empower leaders and accelerate leadership effectiveness, so we can optimize human potential that drives business performance.

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