Being Part of Something that Matters

buy-in defining my purpose definite purpose employee engagement engagement gaining buy-in individual purpose leaders purpose leadership leadership purpose leadership purpose statement leading with a clear purpose leading with purpose organizational purpose servant leadership team winning Apr 30, 2024
gaining buy-in

I can’t think of anyone I know who doesn’t want to be part of something that matters, something bigger than themselves. We can all think of folks who believe they’re owed something, and say they work harder just as soon as they’re paid what they deserve, but I’m willing to bet nearly all of them would pick being on a winning team over a losing one every single time they have a choice. Think back to my example as we looked at how Great People Are Drawn to a Definite Purpose and consider how many folks buy New York Yankees caps or jerseys each year compared to the fraction of them that have any ties to A-Rod… As an organization, the Yankees have the most championships of any professional baseball team while one of the most talented players to ever wear their uniform was only part of one championship team in his entire professional career.

I’m sure someone will think about this a bit and challenge me with the fact that so many people have played for the Yankees. I can’t argue that but my response would be to consider the number of Chicago Bulls jerseys with the number 23 versus the ones without… While I don’t have statistics to back it, I’d be willing to bet that there are far more “Jordan” jerseys than there are Bulls jerseys with every other name combined - and maybe more even if we counted the ones without any name at all! From the time Jordan entered the NBA, he had a very definite purpose! People wanted to be part of that, players and fans alike. If we’ve done a reasonable job of developing our own definite purpose, as well as the purpose the organization we lead is working to achieve, we should have some folks on our teams who are there because they align with that purpose.

Having that buy-in is certainly important, but leading from a place of service will require a bit more. If we’re truly interested in helping our team members achieve their own goals just as much as we’re interested in reaching our own or succeeding as an organization - and I’d challenge any leader’s motives who isn’t - we’d better be willing to do the work necessary to connect with each of them on common ground and learn what each of really value; not everyone gets out of bed each day with the goal of doing more work than any other human on the planet. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize that, but learning to quickly recognize the primary behavioral style of each individual I interact with has done wonders for speeding that process up.

You’ve likely heard the story about the three bricklayers; one who was simply laying brick, another who was building a wall, and the third who was building a cathedral. They were all performing the same task on the same project at the same time, but they had very different perspectives on the work they were doing. I believe a significant part of our role as leaders is helping our team members grasp the perspective of how much impact their work truly has. To do that, we’ll need to establish common ground with each individual we lead. Connecting on common ground can go a long way in earning the buy-in and engagement we’ll need from our teams to achieve great results, but helping them reach their own goals while helping them be a solid part of something that really matters can change everything. This won’t come from lip service though, we’ll need to have a firm understanding of the tasks we need them to do if we want to have any hope of tying that back to anything that matters to them so that’s what we’ll work through next.

P.S. Just in case you're not aware, we recently launched our Leading At The Next Level podcast on all the major platforms. This has been something folks have asked us about for years so hopefully it offers you some value too!