[April 21, 2014] Senior executive leaders are always willing to learn new things to improve on the way they work. One technique I learned to ensure the success of a good idea was to get buy-in as early as possible. The point is to “socialize” it with the major stakeholders – get them used to the idea without any decisions or commitment early.
People believe that senior leaders simply give orders and everyone follows. This is a bit of oversimplification on how decisions are implemented. The best and most successful leaders ensure the good idea is known to as many as possible and get them to put their ideas into it before implementation.
When an idea is the obvious right choice, socializing both formally and informally still provides it with increased credibility. Socialization has the added benefit of helping discover issues that are apt to be powerfully influenced by variables unrelated to the principles of which it is based. And any unexpected problems are likely to show up at this point.
There will always be someone who resists the good idea and campaigns against it; regardless of its merits. These folks will resist the idea for a variety of reasons. We know them, so it is much easier to ask their input early – and it is a courteous act too.
How good ideas are socialized, when and with whom, is subject for another time. There are a few techniques; most have in common the benefit of maximizing communication those who are affected by the idea.
While there will be times when socializing an idea is not appropriate – for example the need for speed in an emergency or for secrecy requirements – senior leaders should plan for socialization and have thought it through well before execution is required. This way, success will follow, and success will have an easier path.
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