By: Alan Stein, Jr.
Originally Published in: Raise Your Game
Buy-in means that the members of your organization choose to embrace, share, and maintain the culture a coach is trying to create. A culture doesn't exist because someone at the top says so. It's brought to life by being accepted and reinforced among the rest of the group. Culture requires consent.
In his book Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek champions the need for businesses to build a buy-in culture. A buy-in culture defines a purpose, creates a sense of loyalty, and makes everyone happy to serve the whole. Genuine leadership means that others willingly follow you, he explains, not because they have to, but because they want to.
One technique a smart leader does is to get the influencers on his side, those whom he knows will trigger a wave of acceptance across the rest of the organization. If you're looking to win over a group, figure out whom to target. Who can move the crowd?
A great example of this is from one of my all-time favorite movies, Hoosiers. Outsider coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) comes to small-town Indiana, a place not open to newcomers, and has a rough time coaching the high school basketball squad. He knows his days are numbered, and instead of trying to recruit the reluctant prodigy Jimmy Chitwood to join the team, he makes a point of giving the kid space, leaving him be, and talking one on one with him in an empathetic manner. He talks to Chitwood about his love for basketball but never once pressures him or even asks him to join the team. This is despite the fact that the whole town is telling him it's the only way for Coach Dale to save his job. The strategy pays off big time: When Jimmy agrees to come back on the team and play - he says he will only do it for Dale. After that, the team and the whole town get in line and they start rattling off wins. Chitwood was the pressure point and Coach Dale knew exactly how to press it.
Leadership isn't about forcing others in a direction; it's about moving ahead and trusting others will follow. Trusting they will want to follow. If they are working within a positive culture, they will be there - and you won't even have to keep checking if they're right behind you. Create an environment where the best ideas win, where everyone feels involved, and the whole is bigger than any individual part.