Law of buy-in is the fourteenth of the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. it states that “people buy into the leader, then the vision.
After graduating from law school in London, Mohandas K. Gandhi (Mahatma) worked as a barrister and activist in South Africa fighting for the rights of Indians and other minorities who were suffering from oppression and discrimination by South African’s apartheid government.
He returned to India from South Africa in 1915. People rallied to him and looked to him more and more for leadership because they highly respected him.
In 1920, Gandhi was elected president of the All India Home Rule League.
Before he became a prominent leader in India, people used violence to achieve their goals — rioting against the British establishment.
However, Gandhi’s vision for change in India was based on nonviolent civil disobedience.
He successfully challenged Indians to meet British oppression with peaceful disobedience and noncooperation, and it worked.
When the British massacred more than one thousand people at Amritsar in 1919, Gandhi called the people to stand without fighting back.
Though the struggle for independence was slow and painful, people embraced Gandhi’s vision of nonviolence because people had bought into him as a leader. In 1947, India gained independence.
But how did Mahatma Gandhi rally millions of people to his way of thinking?
Why did they listen to him when he called for everyone to burn foreign-made clothes?
Why did they follow him to march 241 miles as an act of nonviolent protest against British government’s salt monopoly?
Gandhi was able to get the people to buy into the vision because they have already bought into this leadership.
With the Law of Buy-in, people buy into the leader first
People do not automatically follow you because of your passion, vision, or cause. That is not how leadership really works.
The right question to ask as a leader is not, “Do my people buy into my vision?” It is, “Do my people buy into me?”
Besides, people don’t at first follow worthy causes. they follow worthy leaders who promote causes they can believe in. This understanding alone can change your whole approach to leading people.
Shark Tank is an American reality TV show that features a panel of investors (called ‘Sharks’) who listen to pitches from entrepreneurs seeking to fund their business ideas, products, or services.
I observed that many of the entrepreneurs have a very good business idea, but their ideas were not funded because of the business owner.
The ‘Sharks’ couldn’t just buy into the business owner, and they feel there might not be a return on their investment with that particular business owner in charge.
How to lead with the Law of Buy-in
So, how do you get people to buy into you so they can buy into your vision:
- Remember that you are the message. Every message that people receive is filtered through the messenger who delivers it. If the messenger is credible, people believe the message has value. This is why actors and athletes are hired to promote products. People want to listen to them because they believe in them. So, work on being a great messenger, and people will start believing your message.
- Understand that you cannot separate yourself from your vision. When people don’t like you as a leader and also don’t like your vision, they look for another leader. When they don’t like you as a leader but like your vision, they look for another vision. When they like you as a leader but don’t like your vision, they change the vision. When they like you as a leader, and also like your vision, they get behind both the leader and the vision.
- Take some time to build your credibility.If you are finding it difficult to get people to buy into a particular project, you probably came up against the Law of Buy-in. You might want to delay the project and instead, buy enough time for them to buy into you. In the meantime, you need to work harder to build credibility with the people.