044 – How to Generate Buy-In – Simon Dowling

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It’s the perennial question for leaders – how do we get people to buy in to our ideas? To work with us because they want to, because they believe in the cause – not because it’s in their role description.

Mastering the art of buy-in is what separates leaders from managers – and my guest in this episode is here to convince you of the power of ‘win me’ over ‘decree’ and to offer a heap of insights and advice that will help you identify and develop the skills to take your leadership to the next level.

We talk about what it takes turn an idea into action. How you go about enrolling the enthusiastic support of the people around you to enhance your ideas and bring them to life.

Leaders don’t tell people what to do – they inspire and encourage them to want to take action.

Simon Dowling talks about the art of generating buy-in


Lessons Learned

Here’s what I took from the episode:

At the core of Simon’s message the moving from decree to win-me. It’s the idea that leaders don’t tell people what to do – they inspire and encourage them to want to take action.

Make Your Partner Look Good

Apart from being a commercial lawyer and leadership consultant, Simon has enjoyed a long career on the stage – specifically improvisation. One of the philosophies within the world of improvisation is to make your partner look good

Simon draws a strong link between that tenant from the stage and the art of generating buy-in with the people you work with

Whenever we step out on stage I make one promise -I will make you look good as an improvisor.  I will honour everything you bring to the stage

Leadership v Management

The org chart says you are a manager. Your position comes with a certain authority – which you might wield with force or perhaps a degree of sensibility

Leadership, however, is about who you are, what you stand for and whether other people are willing to come along for the ride

A Conscious Choice

We must make a conscious choice – to move from ‘decree’ to ‘win me’ – from manager to leader. It doesn’t happen by accident – it must be a deliberate decision

…and it’s an ongoing choice. Something you must remind yourself, work on and balance every day.

We are constantly facing the choice – how much of the ‘authority bit’ do I bring into this situation versus creating agreement between us, commitment or buy-in to a way forward

Why Should I Bother?

Why should I go to the extra effort of winning authentic support of the people I lead, rather than taking the much easier option of leaning on the power the org chart gives me to simply tell them what to do?

1. Discretionary effort – if you enrol the true support of the people around you, if they buy in to the idea and make it their own, they will draw from an energy and initiative within them

2. New leaders – you will create people who become champions and advocates of your ideas – new leaders who in turn learn how to engage the people they lead. You will play a role in developing the next generation of leaders, the uptime goal of leadership

The Art of Buy-in

  1. You must start with an attitude of what’s possible – as you begin the process of generating buy-in, you must start with the stance of what’s possible. It’s a mindset of curiosity – genuine interest in the ideas and concerns of others. This mindset of ‘what’s possible’ is what distinguishes ‘win me’ from ‘decree’
  2. Be someone that people will listen to. People buy people first. Those with a level of empathy, humility, conviction and concern are people who are able to build interest from those around them in their vision and ideas. Be really intentional in your relationships – ask yourself, what do I want people to see and feel in me. Focus on those adjectives and work on delivering behaviours that align with them
  3. Be a master of setting the right mood. People don’t buy on logic, spreadsheets and facts alone. They buy on emotion and mood – so set the scene and generate the feeling that supports your idea. Get good at ‘reading the play’
  4. Be good at creating action. It’s not all about the conversation, telling stories and setting the right emotional state. Commitments must be taken forward. Turned into action. You must be someone who can help people take those first critical steps towards action and then help them stay the steady course until the habit is formed and we have genuine momentum

Find the part of you that’s worth amplifying


Find Simon

Twitter: @simon_dowling

Web: www.simondowling.com.au

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