The Law of Buy-In

It is interesting that people will rather follow a person who they believe in but has a mediocre vision than a person who they are not sure of but who has a great vision. This is a result of the law of buy-in. According to Mike Walton, leaders need others’ buy-in to succeed in the twenty-first century. He defines ‘buy-in’ as the understanding, commitment and action in support of the leadership goals and vision. The ability to influence people’s thoughts and feelings, to generate their buy-in is a required leadership skill.

Before people will believe in your leadership vision, they first have to believe in you. You can compel people to follow you by virtue of your position, but if your leadership is solely dependent on just your position (of authority) then you will struggle to get buy-in. Some leaders believe that if they have a great vision then people will automatically follow them. This is rarely the case. People need to first believe in the vision caster before they can believe in the vision.

This is the reason why venture capitalists look beyond the business plan in front of them to the man or woman who is pitching the business plan. They need to be confident that they buy into the leadership ability of the entrepreneur because they are not only backing the business plan but the entrepreneur executing the business plan. Most business plans never go according to plan so this is where the entrepreneur(s)’ leadership ability to deal with potential disruptions is critical.

The leader is first and foremost the message before his vision. Buy-in is based on the leader’s credibility with the people. This is the reason why trust is a leadership currency. If the people don’t trust you then they will not buy into your leadership vision. John Maxwell states that “you can’t separate the leader from the cause he promotes. It can’t be done, no matter how hard you try. It is not an either/or proposition. The two always go together”. The table below illustrates people’s reactions to these two variables:

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6 Responses to The Law of Buy-In

  1. Pingback: Reaction vs Response «

  2. Ogechi

    I’m liking this ‘buy-in’ concept…and loving the part where a leader is first and foremost the message even before his/her vision comes to light. It demand for continuous self-improvement in a leader. The table at the end pretty much cuts to the chase and is a great starting point for analyzing and understanding one’s support or lack thereof of a leader.

    I’m definitely ‘buying-in’ to the truths of this article…before the vision comes the carrier of the vision indeed.

  3. Dylan

    I’m learning about this in World Cultures. I’d say the greatest example is GANDHI!!!!!!!!

    • Hello Dylan, I agree with you that Ghandi is a great example of the law of buy-in in demonstration. Getting his people to buy into his vision of non-violence when enduring British oppression is astounding.

  4. I have seen the this principle at work in a church, but had not read the law of “buy in”. Even though we are following Christ, (Who provides our vision), our earthly leader must be someone we can “buy into” as well, or people lose the faith and trust required for the church body to flourish.

    • I completely agree with you. I have seen churches struggle because the pastor failed to get his team and congregation to buy into the vision he cast before them. Godly wisdom is needed as well if buy-in is going to work in the church.

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