How to Get Leadership Buy-In: Importance, Steps and Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 11 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Formulating the ideas for a new project may be an exciting advancement in your career. Leading a project, or other initiatives, can help improve motivation and ambition, in addition to demonstrating your ability to manage. Learning how to get leadership buy-in can help you succeed in your new project. In this article, we discuss how to get leadership buy-in and outline the seven steps to achieving it.

What is leadership buy-in?

Leadership buy-in refers to the support that you receive from managers within an establishment regarding an initiative or project you may be working on. This support can come in multiple forms, from a written statement to a verbal agreement. Finding leadership buy-in during the proposal stage of your assignment may help to streamline the process and encourage other managers to support it as well. The overall success of a project could rely on the amount of management buy-in it gathers.

A manager may choose to support a project for multiple reasons, but typically the primary incentive is that the initiative improves their role in a vital way. For example, an IT manager may offer support to an initiative to redevelop the software system used in their department if it leads to increased team productivity. If team members work more efficiently, this may initiate future benefits, such as fewer overtime requests and improved employee satisfaction.

How to get leadership buy-in

You may wonder how to get leadership buy-in in the workplace. Before seeking this, it's important to have a clear understanding of the project scope and to prepare details for any questions the management team may have. Once this is complete, there are several important steps to follow to ensure you can gain the interest and support of the leadership staff:

1. Find a primary advocate

Discovering an advocate for your project within the leadership team can help you secure other supporters early on. You may first plan a presentation for your project and find key aspects that can garner interest. These could include benefits such as improving the financial strength of a department or supporting work volume throughout the day. Discussing how these benefits might improve a specific department at work might attract interest from the leader of that sector.

Once you've connected with a specific manager, it's valuable to communicate new updates on the project with them. This may mean drafting a regular update list for them or planning recurring meetings to discuss the initiative in person. You may also wish to bring along any questions you have as the project progresses. Treating them as a partner might strengthen your professional relationship and help them to feel more invested in the completion of the project.

Related: What's Empathy in Leadership? (Plus Importance and Steps)

2. Understand what the leadership wants

It can help to identify what would interest supporting managers. For example, if your project is to raise funds for an improved software system, you may speak to the information technology (IT) manager about the types of changes that would be the most useful. They may share certain benefits and limitations of the current system, and in doing so, you may find areas to develop and improve, which you can convey to the leadership team.

If management is looking for other benefits outside of the ones you addressed with them, you might want to review your analysis and find other ways to gain their support. This is an opportunity to creatively discover alternate ways to aid other departments. It may help you to imagine yourself in a manager's role and to think about what you would most like to achieve from the initiative.

Related: 10 Types of Leadership Styles

3. Ask questions and find answers

When it comes to implementing a training schedule for new employees, asking management in-depth questions about areas of improvement can help you to formulate a course plan. Organisational learning works well when other team members share their insights on what enhancements they would make. Start by compiling a list of questions to ask the managers and speak with them directly to ensure you receive clear answers. Some common questions you might ask include:

  • What advice can you give me for presenting this project?

  • What are some goals you have for this initiative?

  • How can this project improve your department?

  • What changes can you suggest for the current project outline?

  • How can I improve the project plan to align it with your department goals?

  • What potential challenges do you see with this upcoming project?

4. Listen to opinions on the project

When you ask leadership about the project, you may expect to receive varying opinions about it. These may differ from yours, so it's important to maintain an open mind on different points of view. Some managers may also alert you to potential obstacles, which may help you in planning for any possible risks associated with the project.

Gathering multiple types of opinions may prove to be essential for your endeavour. Hearing opposing beliefs can help you understand various interests and goals while also learning about a different perspective. Sharing new ideas is an important part of modern business practice as it allows individuals to collaborate. Therefore, cultivating this type of environment within the organisation may also lead to other benefits in the future.

Related: How to Improve Leadership Skills: Guidelines and Tips

5. Negotiate terms with the leadership

The initiative you're working on may have a budget, staff or time constraints that you would prefer to change. In this case, it's helpful to negotiate the terms of the project early on. For example, if a manager asks you to complete the project within a specific timeframe, but after reviewing it, you decide you'd like to revise the deadline, you may work together to find a solution that suits both parties. You can then draft a contract or letter of intent that outlines all necessary details before the start of the project.

6. Justify the project's objectives

During the initial phases of project planning, you may want to list the realistic ways the initiative might improve the company or certain departments within it. You can find this data by analysing the answers obtained from asking managers about their goals and expectations. You can then work on comparing it to the potential shortcomings of the current system.

For example, if the project is to incentivise new employees through an interactive and engaging training programme, you might first review the current programme in place. You can then compare it to the key aspects hiring managers are trying to develop in new employees. If you find that the existing regimen could use some improvements, you might list the ways in which a revamped model could increase employee retention and commitment to the company. Over time, this may save the business money as it avoids future replacements for open roles.

Related: 10 Leadership Roles and Examples (With Functions of Leadership)

7. Report on your findings

An essential part of planning for a presentation is to prepare your findings for an audience. The audience may consist of only one or two managers, or you may communicate findings to a larger group of professionals. It's helpful to find a way to simplify the data and discuss the most essential details. A shortened analysis may help make the information easier to understand, especially if colleagues aren't familiar with the data.

Related: Example Thank-You Messages for Your Boss

Why is it important for a project?

If a manager sees the benefit early on and is positively impacted by the initiative, they may communicate their support to other colleagues and departments. Having the support of multiple managers may reflect well on the project, especially if you later wish to address other leaders within the company. For example, obtaining buy-in from IT management can play a key role in advocating the completion of the initiative.

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