10 Ways School Leaders Secure Buy-In from Their Teams

How To Get Buy-In From Your Team

Having just completed my NPQH the topic of Vision, values and getting buy-in from my teaching staff is high on my agenda. As a school leader facing the current challenges, you all understand the importance of having a vision for your school. But even the best vision is nothing without the support and buy-in of your team. Getting buy-in from your team refers to gaining their agreement, support and commitment for an initiative, project, change or decision. Taking them with you and gaining recognition as a leader.

In this article, we’ll explore ten ways highly effective school leaders can gain buy-in from their teams. If you don’t see yourself as highly effective don’t worry you are not alone, you might find our post on reluctant and incomplete leaders interesting. If you want to read more about how I set my vision and values have at look at our School of Joy post.

A Recommended Book on School Leadership (affiliate)

10 Ways Leaders Secure Buy-In from Their Teams

1. Be Transparent

Transparency is key to building trust and rapport with your team. Share your vision, goals, and strategic plans openly and honestly. This not only helps your team understand your direction but also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the vision.

2. Communicate Your Vision Effectively

Effective communication is essential to ensure that your vision for your school, or department is clearly understood and embraced by your team. Use multiple communication channels and varying formats such as staff meetings, one-on-one discussions, newsletters, and social media to share your vision and ongoing progress. I listened to the audiobook of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why on my commute to help shape mine.

3. Lead by Example

As a leader, you set the tone for your school. Demonstrate your commitment to the vision by embodying the values and principles you want your team to embrace. By modelling the behaviour you expect, you’ll inspire your team to follow suit.

4. Engage Your Team & Stakeholders in the Process

Involve your team in the development and implementation of your vision. By seeking input, ideas, and feedback, you’ll create a sense of ownership and commitment to the vision among your team members. This collaborative approach helps ensure that your vision is well-rounded and reflective of the needs and aspirations of your entire school community. Buy-in is required by all stakeholders in a school community. You may need to adapt your approach to different stakeholders. This video explains this quite well.

5. Provide Support and Resources

Support your team by providing the necessary resources and training to achieve the vision. This may include workshops, professional development, and access to information or technology. By investing in your team’s growth, you demonstrate your commitment to their success and the overall vision.

6. Set Clear Expectations

Clearly articulate your expectations for your team in relation to the vision. Establish performance indicators and milestones to measure progress and ensure accountability. Remember to be realistic and flexible in your expectations, allowing room for growth, learning, and adaptation. Use the lessons from Radical Candor to have open and honest difficult conversations. I have recently written a blog post that delves into the use of questioning as a strategic approach to leadership, facilitating a deeper understanding of your team dynamics.

7. Celebrate Successes and Share Progress

Recognising and celebrating achievements, both big and small, help maintain morale and motivation while reinforcing your team’s commitment to the vision. Share progress and success stories regularly with your team and acknowledge their hard work and dedication.

8. Foster a Positive and Inclusive Culture

A positive and inclusive school culture is essential for gaining buy-in from your team. Encourage open dialogue, collaboration, and respect for diverse perspectives. By creating a supportive environment where all team members feel valued and heard, you’ll strengthen their commitment to your vision.

9. Be Resilient and Adaptable

As a leader, you must be prepared to face challenges and setbacks on the path to achieving your vision. Show resilience and adaptability in the face of obstacles, and encourage your team to do the same. This will demonstrate your unwavering commitment to the vision, even in difficult times.

10. Maintain a Long-Term Focus

While it’s essential to celebrate short-term successes, keep your team focused on the long-term goals and objectives of your vision. Remind them of the greater purpose and the impact their work is having on students, staff, and the school community.

Gaining buy-in for your school vision and values. Education Leadership NPQH,
The Impact of Your Vision

Challenges Faced By School Leaders in Gaining Buy-In From Their Teams.

Here are some common challenges school leaders face when trying to gain buy-in from their teams for a new vision:

  1. Not clearly communicating the need for change. Staff may not understand why the current state is insufficient and a new vision is needed.
  2. Failing to explain how the vision will benefit team members. Staff will be more motivated if they see how the changes relate to their work and interests.
  3. Asking for input too late. Gaining buy-in is more difficult after a vision has already been solidified. Involving staff earlier allows their ideas to shape the vision.
  4. Not providing adequate time, resources and support for implementation. Staff will be less likely to buy into a vision if they don’t think they have what they need to achieve it.
  5. Imposing the vision top-down without seeking input. This can breed resentment and a sense that staff voices don’t matter. A more collaborative visioning process engenders more buy-in.
  6. Only focusing on the end goals without discussing the journey. Staff want to know the multiple steps and milestones along the way, not just the final destination.
  7. Failing to address potential concerns up front. Anticipating and openly discussing challenges and obstacles reassures staff and increases buy-in.
  8. Not modeling commitment to the vision through their own actions. Staff look to leaders to demonstrate alignment between words and deeds.
10 Ways School Leaders Secure Buy-In from Their Teams

Why am I Still Not Getting Buy-In from My Team?

Getting your team on board and moving forward with initiatives can be challenging. When efforts seem stuck despite your best efforts to communicate and motivate, it’s important to take a step back and understand the underlying reasons why. More often than not, a lack of buy-in stems from practical barriers rather than a lack of willingness.

One common obstacle is uncertainty around roles and responsibilities. Your team may see an issue as important but not feel empowered or accountable for driving change. Especially in a large school were responsibilities are easily ducked. “I am a science teacher wellbeing is not my remit.” Without clear ownership, no one wants to stick their neck out in case things don’t work out. This can breed passive resistance where people pay lip service to ideas but don’t actively work to implement them.

Competing priorities are another key culprit. Your team has day-to-day jobs and other projects vying for attention. No matter how urgent an issue appears to you, others may not feel the pressure if their plate is already full. They’ll inevitably put your priorities on the back burner. This is exacerbated if the need for change isn’t widely agreed upon within the team. Lack of follow through from leadership also diminishes buy-in.

If you’re asking others to prioritise an issue but aren’t backing it up with actions yourself like time, resources or public support, why should they invest extra effort? Empty talk is not a motivator once people are back in the classroom. Taking time to understand these systemic challenges providing the context your team needs to get fully on board is key. With the right adjustments to address underlying barriers, stalled efforts can gain meaningful forward momentum.

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