Often people think that a worthy cause is all that is needed to rally people and motivate them. But John Maxwell believes this to be a mistake. In The Law of Buy-In, the 14th law in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he explains,
Many people who approach the area of vision in leadership have it all backward. They believe that if the cause is good enough, people will automatically buy into it and follow. But that’s not how leadership really works. People don’t at first follow worthy causes. The follow worthy leaders who promote causes that can believe in. People buy into the leader first, then the leader’s vision.”
Dr. Maxwell uses the example of Mahatma Gandhi to make his point. Gandhi was an activist in South Africa fighting for the rights of Indians and other minorities for many years before he returned to India. When he arrived in India in 1914, the people rallied to him because he was already well known and respected.
Before he became an important leader in India, his people used violence in their efforts to obtain what they wanted, including riots against the British rulers. Gandhi’s vision for a new order in India, however, was based on nonviolent civil disobedience.
He challenged Indians to face British oppression with peaceful disobedience and noncooperation and while the struggle for independence was slow and painful, people finally embraced Gandhi’s vision of nonviolence because they had bought into him as a leader.
In other words, the Indian people to bought into Gandhi’s vision because they had already bought into this leadership.
The leader finds the dream and then the people. The people find the leader and then the dreamJohn Maxwell
The Leader is the Message
Every message is filtered through the messenger. Gandhi was credible and then people followed him. When advertisers want to sell a product, they hire people who are credible, to promote these products. This is why Nike shoes hired Michael Jordan for their ads. People have already bought into Michael Jordan, so it become easier to sell those shoes.
Once people have bought into someone, they are willing to give his vision a chance.John Maxwell
It’s not an either/ or Proposition
You cannot separate the leader from the cause he promotes. The two always go together. The following table shows how people react to a leader and his vision under different circumstances
LEADER + VISION = RESULT
Don’t Buy in Don’t Buy in Get Another Leader
Don’t Buy In Buy In Get Another Leader
Buy In Don’t Buy In Get Another Vision
Buy In Buy In Get Behind the Leader
In the first case, people obviously don’t follow the leader. The second case may be surprising, but if people don’t like the leader, even if they like the vision, they will still look for a better leader.
In the third case, when followers like the leader, but don’t like the vision, the will still give the leader another chance to find a better vision, or perhaps over time they will warm up to the leader’s vision. A respected leader can buy time for people to buy into his vision. Finally, in the last case, when the followers believe in the leader and the vision, they will follow him even through hardship, as the Indian people did with Gandhi.
The Law of Buy-In is the 14th law of the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership and one of my favorite. I strongly agree with his idea. What do you think? Feel free to add your comment!
The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
The book is divided in 21 main chapters, one for each of the 21 leadership laws. Below are the links to the chapters that I have reviewed or that I will review later.
- THE LAW OF THE LID
- THE LAW OF INFLUENCE
- THE LAW OF PROCESS
- THE LAW OF NAVIGATION
- THE LAW OF E.F.HUTTON
- THE LAW OF SOLID GROUND
- THE LAW OF RESPECT
- THE LAW OF INTUITION
- THE LAW OF MAGNETISM
- THE LAW OF CONNECTION
- THE LAW OF THE INNER CIRCLE
- THE LAW OF EMPOWERMENT
- THE LAW OF THE PICTURE
- THE LAW OF BUY-IN
- THE LAW OF VICTORY
- THE LAW OF THE BIG MO
- THE LAW OF PRIORITIES
- THE LAW OF SACRIFICE
- THE LAW OF TIMING
- THE LAW OF EXPLOSIVE GROWTH
- THE LAW OF LEGACY