President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” That sounds easier said than done, doesn’t it?
Eisenhower’s quote refers to getting buy-in from your workforce or even your peers on your ideas and needs. Once the buy-in is in place, teams can move forward faster. We all know that buy-in is the hard part. Sometimes your ideas might be hard to describe or difficult to interpret. Other times your ideas are easy to understand, but they take people out of their comfort zones.
When you have a great concept, having a clear and compelling message is critical. It will be tough to get the mission accomplished if those involved don’t comprehend it.
If you are proposing an idea such as changing routines in the production process, you need to do more than just say, “Now do it this way.” You can get your message across faster when you engage people by asking for their thoughts and ideas. Buy-in comes when you explain the benefits of making the change. You need to highlight what is in it for them, for the process, for the product and for the team.
When you don’t seek input from those team members who are responsible for the task, you will de-motivate them. While they might do it the way you said, their hearts will not be in it. For quality and efficient production results, you need your team members’ full attention and effort focused on what you need them to do.
Taking people out of their comfort zones can be especially challenging. Some workers do what they do very well, but they get nervous when asked to do something different than what they were trained for. These people need another level of interaction.
To get team members to think outside their box, you might need to spend a little extra time demonstrating the tasks by shadowing or practicing with others. Investing in side-by-side work for a short period of time will give workers a chance to listen, see and experience the new tasks without feeling like they’ve been thrown to the wolves.
The other part of selling your idea should involve how this new experience will add to the workers’ internal resume and open them up to future opportunities. Give them examples of how others have moved around to different positions and become more valuable to the organization.
In today’s workplace, driving change often requires some managers to change the way they operate. The “Old School” style of demands doesn’t work anymore. Today’s workers want to be treated fairly and with respect. They want to feel part of the team, not part of the machine.
When you walk onto your production floor — or even through your office — think of the landscape you see as your canvas where you can express your art of leadership.