Is This Why You’re Not Getting “Buy-in” From Your Team?

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One of the biggest benefits of being a motivational speaker is that I get to work with many different organizations in many different industries. Because of this, I can sometimes see patterns that others who work within just one sector can miss. (I can also sometimes hear voices that others don’t hear, but that’s a different conversation altogether. And the medication helps.)

One common refrain that I hear from leaders across the board is this:

[quote]I don’t know how to get “buy-in” from my team.[/quote]

Having led a team of insanely talented and creative individuals for fifteen years, I’ve been there. I feel your pain.

The good news is that, over the course of those fifteen years, I figured out what the problem is. The better news is that I figured out the answer.

The problem is inherent in the very phrase you’re using: “buy-in.” And here’s why that’s a problem:

If you’re trying to get someone to “buy-in,” the implication is that you’re trying to sell them something.

And nobody likes to be sold. In fact, if we feel like we’re being “sold,” our instinctive reaction is to resist. You know this is true, right? You’ve had the experience. The pushy car salesman, the “in-your-face” insurance rep, the guy selling “genuine Rolex” watches just off Times Square. Nobody likes to be sold.

So why are you trying to “sell” your team? The more you try to sell them, the more they resist, and the less “buy-in” you’re going to get.

There’s a better way.

Instead of trying to get “buy-in” from your team, focus on giving “ownership.” Can you see the difference? In the first case, you’re trying to get something. In the second, you’re trying to give something. Now, which one of these do you think your team’s going to find more attractive? Which one would you find more attractive?

So how do you “give ownership”? By asking for input. By asking for ideas. By asking your team to become active participants in the idea.

My experience is that when people feel like they are active participants in an idea, they will actually begin to defend that idea. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine your team members, rather than resisting a new idea, actually defending it? Promoting it? Lobbying for it?

If you want to be the kind of leader who gets results like these, then stop trying to get something from your team. Stop selling them. Try giving something to them instead.

Try giving them ownership.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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