The Law of Buy-In

People buy in to the leader, then the vision. — John C. Maxwell
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Reflections on John C. Maxwell’s “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”

hen Bob Iger, former CEO of the Walt Disney Company, took the reigns in 2005, he acquired a storytelling brand that was struggling to tell unique stories as they did in the past. Disney had worked closely with Pixar, distributing their films, which were racking up Academy Awards in the animated film category. Seeing that Pixar was the future, Iger proposed the idea of Disney acquiring Pixar. It was a grand idea that first, he would have to get the buy-in from Steve Jobs. Who, in turn, would have to convince John Lasseter and the Pixar team.

Iger promised to allow Pixar to keep their culture and let them do what they do best.

Leaders must get buy-in from others to steer the ship on the right course.

Quality Assurance

This leadership law rang true for me when I began developing a team to start a quality assurance program at my hotel. As the learning and development manager, it was my job to ensure all of our staff understood and applied our 200+ standards of service. We did not have a system of tracking our performance to measure if we were consistent with meeting those standards. We relied heavily on our annual inspection from the luxury brand, which monitored our progress. We worked hard to achieve our goals for the same month the audit came, but not throughout the year. I realized the problem with our process was that it functioned heavily on paper. It was difficult for managers to measure employees by looking at standards on pieces of paper. So, I found an APP that would allow us to put all of the standards online, track them, and provide real-time results that mimicked a full inspection.

The technology was robust, but it caused fear. How would it look if restaurant managers were in their mobile phones auditing their servers? What about the old school managers who did not do well with emerging technology? I had to gain buy-in from key managers and hold private training for others to roll out the process.

We launched the program with our hotel manager leading the way. He supported the new idea of auditing and helped set clear expectations. I sent a weekly report of which managers were meeting and not meeting audit quotas. Our GM would respond to those emails and hold those falling behind accountable. Our hotel received its highest score after a year of consistent progress and training since its inauguration in the quality assurance program.

Without the buy-in from our general manager, I would not have had the opportunity to gain the team’s trust.

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