I am reading a fantastic leadership book right now by David Novak called, Taking People With You.  It is extremely well-written, thought provoking, and inspirational, no matter where you are on your leadership journey.  In his chapter on “Being Your Best Self,” he talks about how to get everyone on your team aligned, on the same page, and ultimately to buy-in.  He talks about the mind-set that a leader has to have – a mind-set where you have to believe in your people.

Novak says,

Believe in All People.  Celebrate Individuality. Even though the personalities on your team may be different, as long as everyone is working toward the same goals with a similar value system that reflects a respect for others, and a sense of personal accountibility, that’s OK. 

What powerful advice!  Lets’ break this down and discover 6 ways to build a culture of extraordinary buy-in.

1.  Believe in All People.  I must admit, when I first read this statement, I asked myself, “Paul, do you believe in all your people?”   As a college percussion professor, I try to make a difference in the lives of all my students, regardless of their musically ability.  It is my job to help them get where they want to go, and I can’t do that if I don’t believe in them.  Besides, college students have an amazing ability to “grow up right in front of your eyes.”

2.  Celebrate Individuality.  On a team, everyone is unique, and each person brings with them their own background, experiences, and influences.  In fact, truly great teams have the ability to successfuly bring all of their different personalities together in pursuit of excellence while mediocre teams suffer from selfishness, ego, and drama.  The key is letting people be individuals under the umbrella of always putting the team ahead of themselves.

3.  Work Toward the Same Goals.  The best and often most challenging way to get all your team members to buy-in is to inspire and influence them to make a commitment to work toward the same goals.  This takes strong leadership and is a true hallmark of great teams.  Getting everyone working toward the same goals is about believing the goals are valuable and worthy of their effort, and about caring for one another on the team.

4.  Share a Similar Value System.  Values are the fabric of any team or organization.  With my students at Clemson University, our value system is based on the 8 values of uncommon success that I believe are necessary to work toward excellence.  These values are hunger, effort, process, quality, consistency, leadership, time, and perseverance.  Because we have built a culture where my  current students buy-in to these values, they eagerly “pass them on” to new students joining the program.

5.  Respect Others.  Building a culture where respect is valued is essential for achieving buy-in.  Treating others with respect and caring about your teammates is a sign of excellent teams.  Mistreating others or not caring about your teammates is a sign of mediocre or dysfunctional teams.  Make no mistake – both occur and both exist.  If you want your people to buy-in to you, be respectful to them.

6.  Develop a Sense of Personal Accountability.  It is one thing for superiors to hold you accountable for your performance.  It’s entirely another for you to hold yourself accountable.  Buy-in will increase when leaders admit they make mistakes.  Buy-in will increase when leaders admit they don’t know everything.  And buy-in will increase when leaders give ownership to their people and trust them.  As a leader, hold yourself accountable by asking others for help, or as David Novak would say, by taking people with you!