Leadership and Vulnerability—The Keys to Buying In
Everyone needs something to look forward to—a dream, goal and a future they can lean into. Leaders engage team members to adopt goals that align with a company’s vision, which can only be achieved when a culture is created that embraces and nurtures the same vision.
Engaging people trumps motivating and persuading, hands down, every time. Persuasion is a form of force. Engagement happens when a leader shares courageously, listens intently and teaches the team to be curious and open. An effective leader does not need to have all the answers. They do, however, have the ability to articulate a vision clearly. When people can see the vision, they find their own vision inside of it. They show this through their participation and engagement. Now you have ‘buy-in.’
Creating trust is probably the most critical part of creating a buy-in culture. The first and probably the most obvious step is to be truthful. It all starts with leadership. Did you forget something, mess up or were late to a meeting? Just be honest about it, no matter how it makes you look. It’s one thing to make a mistake and be honest, but if you weren’t honest about that mistake and when someone finds out you weren’t, you’ll have egg on your face and lose all credibility.
Second, admit you don’t know something. Not one person on our team knows everything about the business, and that’s how it should be. It’s ok not to know the answer to a question, but here is an opportunity to be truthful by admitting it and working toward an action to find the answer. Now the answer can be shared with the team, and you’ve not only created a more knowledgeable environment but an open platform for discussion.
Frame Goals in a Common Way
Our organization uses an approach that shares the vision and creates a buy-in culture. We don’t pretend but are transparent about the company, even financially. Team members need to understand what happens when we purchase too much film, take too long on a project, redo work and go over budget.
What is the company doing right, and how can we do more right rather than what the company is doing wrong? Don’t just talk but share. Sharing is being vulnerable, and this is challenging but empowering. If you are vulnerable, others will be too. You’ll connect and grow with someone much quicker if you share. Be concise and communicate passionately. What are the company’s goals, and what does each team member need to learn to achieve their goals, so the company meets its goal?
Each year our company sets goals that align with the company’s larger vision by asking what the team members believe the goal or goals should be. We work collectively rather than individually. Every fast-growing company has one thing in common—a passionate team. Tesla clearly isn’t the largest auto manufacturer, but recently, its valuation has rivaled Toyota’s because people bought into Tesla’s vision and kept driving the stock price up. The same is true with SpaceX. They are incredibly passionate about what they are doing.
Lastly, model the courage of that vision. We believe the organization is only as good as its weakest link, for lack of a better phrase. This means educating all team members about window films. We consider ourselves window film nerds, and the team embodies it. If leadership isn’t passionate, why should anyone else be?
Many critics claim, ‘I don’t want to train my competitor.’ If you are afraid of a competitor, you aren’t vulnerable, and your team won’t be either. We’re not worried about competition— competition is concerned about us, and they should be. Besides, I’d rather have a well-educated competitor than a non-educated one. A well-educated competitor understands the value of the product you sell.
Start with what you need to create trust, be courageous, vulnerable and communicate your vision. We have a saying in our office, ‘Share our vision, implement our vision.’
People leave jobs, but our responsibility as leaders is to create an environment that’s too good to quit. What impact would this new environment have on hiring or retaining employees? You might just surprise yourself.