“Buy-in” is a powerful thing. You need your team to buy-in to your vision, and it strengthens your ability to reach your goals and impact the kingdom. Building buy-in is a crucial skill for school leaders, as you will have future team members cycle through your school, especially interns and volunteers.
It Starts With Your Team
Buy-in starts with the people you bring onto your team. At Bethel, we hire people who carry our core values: people who believe and live a culture of honor, value His Presence, and want to see His kingdom advance. More often than not, our team members have gone through BSSM, receiving teachings and importations from the fathers and mothers of the house.
It is important that your team members carry your heart, values, and goals. Choose people you have known for awhile. In Culture of Empowerment, Steve Backlund, leader of Igniting Hope Ministries, says you should “date” a person before making them a permanent part of your team. If possible, choose people who have gone through your school so you can ensure they understand your heart, which starts with your “why.”
Know Your Why
Take some time to sit down with the Lord and develop your “why.” Go beyond vague language such as “impacting the kingdom.” Go deep into your why, so that you are able to clearly communicate it to others. Some great questions to ask Him are:
- What people group have You called me to impact?
- What are my core values? Does my environment line up with my core values?
- What are we (the Lord and yourself) doing and building together?
- Who are the people you are called to run with? Who is on your team?
- Where is my vision focused?
- What snares are keeping me from my focus?
- What is my why?
When you really understand your “why,” you can impart that to others in a deeper way. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” Another way this verse is read is, “Without vision the people perish.”
Vision bridges the present to the future, gives pain a purpose, and pushes us toward creating a legacy for those behind us worth inheriting.
When you so clearly know your vision, you can influence others to move toward that vision.
Below are some keys to creating buy-in for your vision within your team.
Communicate what fulfilling your vision and dream looks like with your team. Constantly talking about your vision may seem redundant, but the goal of constant communication is to make sure your team can explain their purpose to each other and to students. Communicating the goal and vision often and clearly creates a type of “muscle memory” in them.
Recently, Redding was affected by the Carr Fire, one of the largest fires in California’s history. Within a day or two of realizing this tragedy was going to have a vast affect on our community, Bethel stopped a majority of its normal processes and ministries to jump in to help the community. During this time, Bill Johnson said, “This is where culture shines.” We had teams of people from all over the world volunteering with us, and each group noted with amazement how our staff treated them, each other, our culture of excellence, empowerment, and how effective we were at getting things done. In our time of crisis, the “muscle memory” of our culture came out without us thinking about it.
Consistently talk with your team about your vision. Describe to them what the perfect outcome would be, and work with them to discover the steps to achieve that outcome. Allow them to share the ways they see the vision coming to pass and what part they want to play in the vision. Dream together of what your community’s future can look like.
Creating genuine buy-in takes time, and sometimes it can take a lot of time. Some of School Planting’s former interns have returned home and are planning to start a school. They have begun building their team and having team nights, yet they don’t plan on launching their school for another 18 months. They understand that it takes time to build relational equity with their team, and they are building a strong team with a strong foundation rather than quickly launching their school.
Don’t be afraid to spend time building your team. Get to know each team member individually as well as in a group. As we mentioned before, “date” your potential team members before giving them a vast amount of influence. This doesn’t mean you don’t give them responsibilities, but you limit their influence while you are getting to know them. This can look like asking potential team members to volunteer or intern for you, or, if they have gone through your school, giving them more leadership responsibilities toward the end of the school year.
Listen and Give Your Team A Voice
Take time to just be quiet and listen to your team. While you may be the leader and the “visionary” for your team, it is important to get their feedback and ideas. Everyone comes from different walks of life, has different life experiences, and knows the Lord in their own way. These unique factors in each person’s life brings a perspective and flow of ideas you may have never considered before.
Know when to be silent and know when to ask questions. Knowing the way each of your team members process information is also important. Some may be external processors and need to talk through their ideas without being fully committed to them. Others may be internal processors and need some time to think, or be asked questions to draw out what they are thinking.
Let each team member know individually how important they are to seeing the vision played out, and how their unique skill sets can help that vision come about. Give them responsibilities to see the vision come to reality. The kingdom is made of many parts, and each part has its own unique expression.
Allow your team to express the vision in their own way and let them know that they do not have to do it your way. If there is something that needs to be done a particular way, explain why, and allow your team to ask questions and give insight. Giving your team responsibility for individual projects creates a sense of ownership. As your team develops ownership, they will create a culture people want to be a part of.
As your team members begin to take ownership of your environment, allow them to make mistakes, and don’t feel the need to rush in and fix them all. Trust them enough to allow them to make mistakes and correct them on their own. That doesn’t mean ignoring them if they need help, it just means you trust your team to make decisions without having to ask you for permission for every small decision. Mentor them with an open hand, not a closed fist.
The language you and your team members use is key to creating buy-in. The more “we” language you use, the more likely you will see buy-in. As you begin painting a vision for your community and environment, use language such as, “We are going to see cancer eliminated from our community,” or, “We are known as extreme lovers of people.” As you include the team members around you in your vision through your language, they will begin to take more ownership of your vision.
If your end goal is revival, start out by breaking that down. “Revival” sounds intimidating, and quite frankly, it looks different to everyone. Instead of communicating you want a culture of revival, breakdown what revival looks like to you with the input of your team. A culture of revival could be a culture that empowers, encourages, sees miracles, signs and wonders, and stops and prays for the one.
Jesus spent 30 years preparing before His ministry began. A majority of the parables is about going after the one lost person. Revival can start small and grow over time. You don’t have to bring radical revival in the first few months of your school.
Lead the Way
If you express to your team that you want to develop a culture of encouragement, you need to be the most encouraging person in the room. If you want to see cancer eliminated, you have to be the one to always pray for healing for cancer. You have to lead by example, relentlessly, no matter how you are feeling. That doesn’t mean you are not real and vulnerable with your team, but it does mean that through all things, you are displaying the culture.
Building buy-in is important for the future of your team and community. It will help you as a team go far together, seeing the kingdom come to earth and making disciples of all nations. We are praying that the Lord will download unique insight and vision to you and your team so everyone is on board to see heaven on earth.