Chapter 14Buy-in Is Earned, Not Commanded!

The Challenge

Although most leaders aren't foolish enough to say anything like the following aloud, they are prone to think it privately: “My people have to buy into me. I'm the boss; I own the place; my name is on the sign.” These and other versions of positional leadership palavers demonstrate the debilitating duo of arrogance and ignorance. People do not have to buy into you or any other leader; they have the option to comply rather than commit. In other words, they have the choice to do just enough to get by and collect a paycheck, rather than stretch their efforts to second-mile performances. Buy-in must be earned; it cannot be assumed or commanded. Followers must buy into you in five key areas before they are eager to buy into the ultimate few objectives (TUFs) or into master the art of execution (MAX) as a process; I call these areas the five Cs. Frankly, if they are not buying into your aspirations, it is likely because they haven't bought into one or more of these aspects of you and your leadership. At least not yet.

The Five Nonnegotiables of Buy-in

  1. Character: Any follower, or potential follower for that matter, rightly asks the following about his or her leader: “Can I trust you?” Trust issues go beyond blatant offenses, such as lying, cheating, or stealing. It covers areas such as keeping commitments, leading by example, having a great work ethic, being teachable, giving away credit, admitting mistakes, and subordinating ...

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