all inDuring the NBA playoffs I watch as all the teams have their own mantra for success, one that stands out to me is the Cleveland Cavaliers mantra “All In” the mantra is indicative of the players and coaches idea to be a collective unit striving for one goal. That sounds great, but how is that functional?

One of the things I used to hate during my time in the military is when my leader would say mission first or focus on the mission. And while I hated it, when I became a leader myself I began to understand it. But what I really began to understand was the importance of the “buy-in” is getting every member of the team to “buy-in” to the team’s goal and vision. Often we think that the “buy-in” starts at the top tier of leadership and while that is partially true I think the most important and effective part of the “buy-in” starts at the middle tier of leadership.

It starts with the front-line supervisors, the people that work directly with the “worker bees” of the team or organization. I think that often we as leaders spend too much time trying to influence the leaders that have positional influence, rather than, trying to influence the leaders with relational influence. John Maxwell suggests this: “People don’t at first follow worthy causes. They follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in.” (John Maxwell 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership). The challenge is that often as leaders we don’t spend enough time getting to know the on-the-ground leaders, so they never buy-in to our vision because they have not bought into us and if they never buy-in to our vision, they will never use their influence to promote our vision.

Ask yourself when is that last time you had a non work related conversation with some of your entry level workers, the guys that really keep the mission going? When was the last time you let them see you not just as a leader they have to respect, but a leader they can trust? The truthful reality is that if we want our mission to be successful, we have to first get our team to buy-in to us, so that whatever the vision is they will buy-in to it, because they believe in us. As I watched the Cleveland Cavs season I watched some rocky parts of their season, but the more time everyone spent to together and spent getting to know each other the more they began to buy-in to the “All In” philosophy. The point I’m trying to make is that the buy-in does not start with the vision but it starts with the people. A California preacher once said this: “If the people trust your heart, they will trust your vision.” So dear leader, if you want the team to “buy-in” don’t show them the vision, show them you. If they are following you, they are inevitably following your vision.

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