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A Leader’s Vision Needs Buy-In

While there are many attributes that define good leadership, we usually think of a leader’s ability to share a vision as the real indicator of that leader’s reputation. Vision is often thought of as being synonymous with leadership. Having a vision for where the team is going is what being a leader is about, right?

a Leader's vision needs buy-in

You don’t have to be the owner or CEO to commit to a vision for growth and success. You can lead from within an organization by being able to inspire others to get on track for driving toward a vision; a vision set by others above you.

However, there is a breakdown that can occur when a person in authority tries to execute on a vision. I’ve seen managers, very senior managers, who know the vision. They helped write it. Yet their ability to lead others to achieve that vision fails. Why?

Once a vision is crafted and carefully written, you have to get buy-in from those who must execute the vision. Your team has to embrace the merits of the vision. They need to understand why and ‘what’s in it for me?’ Those are fair questions for employees to be asking.

Obtaining buy-in is where a Manager may fail as a Leader

Buy-in is hard to achieve because people don’t buy into ideas, they buy into people. The person sharing the idea must be credible, relatable, and someone with whom others can identify.

Your people need to buy-in to you before they buy-in to your vision. Being just another talking head in a management seat will not go very far.

John Maxwell writes about the principle of the buy-in in his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

[perfectpullquote align=”right” bordertop=”false” cite=”John Maxwell” link=”” color=”#d98310″ class=”” size=”18″]People don’t follow worthy causes, they follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in.[/perfectpullquote]

Having an understanding of that will change your whole approach to leadership. When your team begins to process the content of the message you may be sharing, they first filter it through you.

Ask Yourself This Question

What is the current level of buy-in for the people you lead? If your team is small, make a list. Rate each team member’s buy-in on a scale of 1 to 10. A 1 means they wouldn’t follow anything you say. A 10 means they’d follow you anywhere. If your overall ranking is low, you have a lot of work to do before the team decides to find another leader.

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What to Do?

Here are some ways you can earn credibility and increase your leadership.

  • Develop better working relationships
  • Be honest and authentic as you earn their trust
  • Hold yourself to high standards, setting a good example
  • Give them the tools to do a better job
  • Help them achieve personal goals at work
  • Develop others as leaders; mentoring them along the way

Make your strategy unique to each person. As Maxwell says “If you make it your primary goal to add value to all of them, your credibility factor will rise rapidly.”

Question: How are you doing with earning buy-in from your team?

We Interrupt This Blog to Get Real

Starting a business is not for the weak at heart. A big bright idea for a product or service is not enough to create success. Are you a real entrepreneur?

Being in business takes execution; not the kind Mark Twain spoke about:

Did you hear about the execution? No, but I am in favor of it, said Twain.

Execution for a small business is about putting together a plan for producing and delivering the good or service you intend to make. Yet selling ice to an Eskimo is not necessarily the right thing to do. Just because you are intent on an idea, the rest of the world out there may have no need for that thing.

Here’s My Story

I experienced this personally a few years ago. In the late 90’s the whole global outsourcing craze was in full swing. Companies large and small were either using it or trying to figure out how to do it. In a consulting capacity, I helped two large companies build domestic outsourcing platforms. Then, after what I believed were successful exits from those engagements. I pulled together some investors to start my own company. The business model had been perfected, or so I thought.

My company slowly grew and seemed like it might turn the corner, but the process was painful. Clients were few and far between. The value proposition seemed to take a lot of convincing to get buyers. Lead times were long, so sales acquisition was costly. I had plenty of competition because several other companies were in the market, including the previous two I had helped build.

Sadly, the U.S. recession of 2008 hit and my business closed. Today, when I study the landscape, there are no remnants of the outsource model I and my competitors were selling. None. The service was clearly not one the market needed or wanted. However, some very smart people with a lot of money had ventured down that path together thinking our ideas about domestic outsourcing were the cure for all things bad that outsourcing had become in those days. (PS –  I am not knocking outsourcing, I still believes it serves a great purpose under the right circumstances).

The idea alone was not enough to create success.

Throttle Your Ego

So, what is the entrepreneur to do? First thing is to get over yourself. Kudos that you are bold with your idea. Great! That’s a good step one. Once the business is put in motion you have to throttle any ego that goes with it. Yes, you have to stay on course as the chief visionary and evangelist for your idea. You have to sell it everywhere you go. There is no denying that.

However, your ego cannot become a stumbling block to progress. As soon as you decide to hire your first wave of employees, you have layers of challenges that are exponential in proportion. Your pride might just be the biggest hurdle you have to overcome. What if one of those new employees comes up with an idea that is just slightly better than the one you started with?

Stifling contributions from the team you put around you is a certain way to kill the business. Instead you must build a culture where the people you hire are fitting into valuable seats at the table. Each seat should have a clear and defined reason for being there. Hiring your brother in law is a bad idea unless he can serve a dedicated function that has value.

Learn How to Take Criticism

As an entrepreneur you’ll have plenty of naysayer’s. Sometimes the negative comments should be heard. Maybe you are being told your precious idea is a stinker. Yes, you have to filter this kind of input carefully. On one hand you should not be easily discouraged. If you are, then maybe you are not cut out for the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

However, in the face of criticism, you might hear some great alternative thoughts about how to proceed. Pay attention. Process the good ideas and throw away the bad ones.

Deal With Change

Be ready to face change. Just because your idea was launched, there will always be changes. Handling change is positive ways is vital to you effort to sustain your growth. Keep learning. When mistakes happen, and they will, learn from them. Study them. Do after action reports. Make adjustments to your process and your procedures.

Above all, be willing to change YOU!! Keep growing as an owner. If you find you don’t know what you don’t know about running a business, find a business coach or mentor to review your whole operation, top to bottom. Get a health check on your business.

Then fix the things that are broken or missing. Patch the holes. Strengthen your foundation.

Finding the Edge

As your budding baby idea of a business begins to grow, keep looking for the edge. Finding the edge is the optimum ways to deliver on your idea whether it is a product or service. Be sure customers are coming back. Use their experience in trading with you to learn about their interests and buying habits. Why did they choose you? What was it that attracted them? Can you repeat that experience for others?

Right now, I am helping independent business owners with what I call the $10K Challenge. Give me 45 minutes to review your business with you. I guarantee I can find $10,000 for you. Wouldn’t that be worth your time to explore?

[reminder]Where is your business right now with you as its leader?[/reminder]

Open Letter to New Managers

you manage your world

This is an open letter to the many who have taken on roles of leadership at their work. It is particularly focused on managers who are sitting on the other side of the desk for the first time.

What went through your mind the first few days on the job as a new manager? I remember my first assignment vividly.

Despite having gone through college as a business management major and serving in several key internships where I was able to spread my wings as a manager, nothing hit me like the sobering reality of the first day on the job.

Read more

Managers: Why You Should Re-Calibrate

In today’s business world, everyone is trying to be someone or something. Maybe it is because of our western culture. You heard it at an early age; “what do you want to be when you grow up?” (My answer is still, I’ll tell you when I grow up). New managers need to stay the course, following the purpose for which they entered leadership.

Being that particular someone or something drives us. There is, however, a bigger question to ask ourselves. Does the position you hold at work have anything to do with the person you meant to become?

Has your vocation gotten in the way of you becoming the person you think you were supposed to be? Have you lost sight of a bigger purpose or a calling?

During the years I ran the career transition non-profit organization called Jobs Ministry Southwest, I heard so many professionals tell stories about life getting in the way of the dream they once had. People who had studied one field in school never got a job there because they got married early, had children and accepted another path because it made sense at the time. Critical needs overruled dreams and passions. Sad perhaps, but very real circumstances.

Despite the twists and turns in life, I believe you will demonstrate a basic behavior that is true to your original purpose. How do I know this? Take this small challenge.

Ask some of your closest friends and colleagues to write just three words to describe you; nothing too deep, just their basic impression of their experience knowing you. Three words.

I will not do this exercise often, but when I do, I find that it provides the following feedback:

  1. Reinforces the values I intend to exhibit to the world.
  2. Provides correction if I have deviated from my true course.
  3. Restores clarity when or if I have lost focus.
  4. May provide a surprise response about a trait or character I was not aware I had.

Time to Re-Calibrate

Getting this feedback helps me re-calibrate. I love that word. Why? Because I believe all of our effort to grow and be more in this world is a function of many, many moving parts. Occasionally a cog gets out of alignment. When that happens, our mechanism will not function at full speed and efficiency. We need re-calibration to synchronize the moving parts.

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From time to time, the best realignment we can get is to refocus our purpose for being here. Clear out the distractions and return to the greater calling we once believed.

My audience is mostly business managers. Nothing can get you off center more than the demands of leadership at work. Ironically, in order to be the best possible kind of leader, you need to stay centered. Therefore, seeking ways to refocus and re-calibrate become very vital to that effort.

Here’s my closing question.

[reminder]Has your role in management become the very thing that has taken you off course? [/reminder]

Have you felt as though your duties in management have made you change? If you are sensing any such tug, you definitely need to pause a moment, seek reflection, and re-calibrate.