My favorite definition of diplomacy: “the art of letting someone else have your way.” For most of us, that’s a necessary skill in our work and in our personal lives. The real art, however, is in having someone else WANT TO do something – that’s buy-in.
Telling the boss what to do qualifies as a CLM (Career Limiting Move). Ditto for our peers – they can derail our careers if they choose. And although it’s easy to tell the people who report to us what to do, getting their buy-in will improve their performance (and thereby help our careers as well).
The art of achieving buy-in rests in asking the question from the other person’s viewpoint – What’s In It For Me? Why should they want to do what I want them to? Answering that question requires me to put myself in their shoes, to understand what they want, and then to be willing to use my resources to help them achieve their goals.
Buy-in can work with almost anybody, anywhere, and any time. With subordinates, peers, and bosses. It works best, however, when the other party is also interested in creating a win/win.
Buy-in is invitational. It deepens relationship, fosters a spirit of co-creating, demonstrates power sharing. It directly contrasts to the typical power-over, command-and-control behavior that permeates so many of our organizations. It is one small, but powerful, step toward a healthier organization.