Who are you?
People buy people first.
The other day I came home to find that a pigeon had attempted a shortcut through my lounge. Now that’s not the usual route out of our back garden that they usually try to take, however our lounge has windows both front and back, and the window at the rear of the house now had the imprint of a pigeon across the middle, and there were some feathers along with several shards of glass lying on the patio outside.
There was no trace of the bird, so it had presumably flown off with a surprised look on its face and a bit of a headache. However, that left me with a problem to sort out, since the house dates back to 1906 and the window still had the original sash frame complete with “real” glass. Where could I turn to find a suitable tradesman for this little task?
Well, after seeking advice from several well-connected friends, none of which had any contacts for this work I ended up on Google, and I was faced with a problem. Whenever I have had any work done I have usually sought a recommendation from those more knowledgeable than I am, and over the years I have assembled a source of tradesmen that I know, like and trust. It’s interesting and yet not really surprising to realise that one of the biggest factors I look to when selecting a tradesman is whether I feel I can trust the person I meet.
It is interesting to realise that a similar dynamic can be seen in many areas of life, and one example is found in the international TV Franchise most widely known as “Dragons Den”. This popular TV programme originated in Japan as “Money Tigers” and is also known as “Shark Tank” or “Lions Den”, and features entrepreneurs pitching their brilliant ideas to try and secure some financial support and business direction from a panel of rather wealthy potential investors.
In this reality show, the entrepreneur arrives at the venue and has a few minutes to deliver a compelling presentation, casting their vision of their really innovative idea, after which the Dragons interrogate the entrepreneur about this unmissable opportunity and its commercial viability. In common with most sales pitches, the interesting thing is to watch how the dragons relate to the entrepreneur and how their final decision is based as much on the viability of the idea as about their buy-in to the entrepreneur.
Another fascinating example of this phenomenon in a TV franchise is found in the UK version of “Top Gear”. This programme actually started life as a 30-minute monthly show based out of the BBC Pebble Mill studios in Birmingham, England, and ran from 1977 to 2001. The original format was then overhauled in 2002 with the relaunch based on the rather quirky and quaintly humorous style of the new presenter line-up led by the often controversial Jeremy Clarkson. Under his leadership, and forming an enduring trio with Richard Hammond and James May, the show then proceeded to become the most widely watched factual magazine programme in the world! That is until March 2015, when following an unfortunate incident between Clarkson and a producer, the presenter was advised that his contract would not be renewed.
As I write this blog this show has recently started the second series since the departure of its erstwhile trio of presenters, and it has yet to achieve anything like the following it had previously achieved with ratings dwindling. Despite having many similar topics to be covered and some very big names drafted in to replace the previous line up the viewing figures haven’t recovered and the show seems to be struggling with its identity, while the Clarkson team have moved on to a very successful “Grand Tour” on Amazon Prime.
I invest in people. I think: people first, projects second.
~ Bruno Zheng Wu
While viewers were watching “Top Gear” since the new team took over in 2002, in the main what the viewers were actually buying into was the chemistry found in the trio led by Clarkson, along with the laddish banter between the three. They were actually buying into the person and the personality, as much as they were buying into the show or the topics they were covering in the show. Of course, the show had to be entertaining and the new vision that Clarkson et. al. were pursuing with the 2002 relaunch had to be compelling, but before any of that would be given a chance to succeed by the viewing public, they would have to buy-in to Clarkson and his merry band of men.
In a similar way, for any leader to be successful, of course, the vision you are pursuing has to be compelling and worthwhile, however, to get a significant following beyond family and friends it is imperative for the leader personally to obtain buy-in from those that are going to follow. Now many leaders in such a position will quickly deny that any personal buy-in is involved and that it’s all about the vision, however, in practice, it is all too evident to see. Chris Evans was the first to discover that when he decided to abandon the position of the Top Gear anchor after just 6 of 10 episodes originally planned in 2016.
As a leader, your success is measured by your ability to actually take people where they need to go. But you can only do that if the people first buy into you.
~ John Maxwell
If you have an awesome vision but have yet to obtain buy-in, then you will be well advised to wait to pursue the vision until you have obtained their buy-in. Maxwell puts it this way: “The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dream”. What do you have to do to obtain buy-in from your people? Work on building that before attempting to cast your vision, and you will always have much greater success.
About Roger Fairhead
Roger is a Leadership specialist and uses the PRIZE Winning Leadership model to help leaders improve their effectiveness and that of their teams, through remote and on-site delivery of keynotes, group training events and individual coaching sessions.
He is the author of several books including "PRIZE Winning Leadership" and “Personal Productivity Planner”, a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a Director of the Global Leadership Network UK with extensive experience in Project Management and Sales.
“He is articulate, tracks complex issues with ease and has an incredible gift for raising pearls of wisdom out of the murky depths of people and process.” His passion is to help people to learn effective leadership skills to lead their teams to capitalize on their strengths and passions to realize their dreams.
Roger also invests into the dreams of families in the world’s underserved communities to offer them small loans that empower them to invest in their future, to provide for their families and give back to their communities.