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Generating Buy-In: Mastering the Language of Leadership

Generating Buy-In: Mastering the Language of Leadership

by Mark S. Walton

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"The power not just to persuade, but to inspire.

"Anyone interested in influencing fellow human beings can benefit from this book’s wise and practical advice. It’s a keeper!" —William Ury, Harvard Law School, Coauthor of the best-selling Getting to Yes

The ability to influence people’s thoughts and feelings,


"The power not just to persuade, but to inspire.

"Anyone interested in influencing fellow human beings can benefit from this book’s wise and practical advice. It’s a keeper!" —William Ury, Harvard Law School, Coauthor of the best-selling Getting to Yes

The ability to influence people’s thoughts and feelings, to generate their buy-in, has emerged as the paramount leadership skill. The strongest leaders are those who create a positive vision of the future, paint a "big picture" that generates action by tapping into people’s emotions, ask for a commitment, and inspire their listeners to take steps toward the goal. Generating Buy-In: Mastering the Language of Leadership will help you master the powerful language that breeds such a commitment.

Through real-world case studies and exclusive interviews, Generating Buy-In imparts a revolutionary yet practical approach to:

• Crafting a strategic story that projects a positive future to your audience

• Speaking the language of buy-in with images that mold powerful thoughts and emotions in your listeners

• Putting the language to work in service of your goal — whether the goal is to raise sales, inspire a work force, or win a Presidential election.

"This book unlocks secrets top leaders have applied through the ages. Instinctively you know that Mark Walton has hit the bulls-eye, because it feels right in your heart and your gut. Wonderfully simple and effective!" — Ron Kirkpatrick, National Manager, Toyota Motor Sales, USA

Complete with examples, practical exercises, sample business scenarios, and a foreword by William Ury, coauthor of the best-selling Getting to Yes, Generating Buy-In is an indispensable resource for leading and succeeding in today’s fiercely competitive world!"

Editorial Reviews

Midwest Book Review
This book will stimulate your thinking and change the way you communicate.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A former senior correspondent and anchorman at CNN, Mark Walton draws on his rich communications background to help leaders master the language of leadership with Generating Buy-In.

Walton describes "buy-in" as getting understanding, commitment and action from others in support of a person, idea, proposal, product, service or organization. He explains that buy-in is the essential emotional ingredient needed for any collaborative effort to be successful.

Generating Buy-In shows leaders how they can get buy-in by recognizing situations that call for renewed commitment from others, creating strategic stories that generate enthusiasm, and calling for action to get the job done. Walton stresses that generating buy-in isn't done haphazardly, and provides an overall framework and step-by-step procedures for building momentum by getting people on your side.

Companies that advertise on television are masterful at generating buy-in for their products: cars, clothes, investments, vacations, you name it. They speak to us in strategic stories designed to project a positive future. Walton explains that we think in stories filled with pictures - images of life - that are the language and currency of our minds.

Walton writes that the human mind is like our own private screening room that continually shows complex mental stories that have the power to soothe, frighten or stimulate us. If it's true that the mind thinks this way, he explains, the most effective way to stimulate the mind is to communicate with it in its most basic language: a story.

If our goal is to get people to buy into a creative idea or a new product or business proposal, Walton explains, the story that is most likely to succeed is one that projects a positive future that happens because of that idea, product or proposal. People, Walton explains, are much more likely to do what you want them to do if it leads to a future they want.

He uses the following step-by-step guide to illustrate the story development process:

  • Goal Setting: Determine your buy-in objective. What action do you want your audience to take regarding your idea, proposal, product, service or organization?
  • First Step: Establish your strategic story line. To generate the action you want, what is the "big picture" or vision of a positive future you want your audience to see?
  • Second Step: Develop your story line in three chapters that target your audience's agenda. What are this particular audience's needs, wants and future goals? In the future you are projecting, what are the three most important ways in which this audience's agenda will be fulfilled?
  • Third Step: Call your audience to action. Ask for a commitment or first step toward the action you want.

As with any language, the language of buy-in can be spoken, written, printed or expressed in a variety of media and formats. Walton writes that great advertising, packaging and promotional materials are perfect examples of strategic storytelling. Through words and images, they promise a positive future if we buy into the products or services involved.

According to Walton, carefully asking and listening is an underlying element of all types of successful advertising, marketing and political campaigns. Whether they use simple personal interviews or sophisticated technologies that read a focus group's brain waves, he writes that smart companies use the "asking and listening" method to determine what turns people on. The company leverages that information to communicate the right story to a particular target market or demographic group.

Walton explains that the key to maximizing the impact of any strategic story is to repeat it as often as possible for as long as possible. The longer and more frequently you repeat your strategic story, the more likely you are to be successful.

If your story isn't producing the buy-in you want with a particular target audience, it might need adjustment. Walton writes that you must review your strategy, especially your research on the target audience's needs, wants and future goals. Keep in mind that people's needs, wants and goals can and do change quickly. Usually, when a strategic story is producing insufficient results, he explains, it's because the target audience research is insufficient, faulty or outdated. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Jim Pawlak
Those who run (command and control) companies would do well to heed the words in Generating Buy-In....Those who lead (inspire their employees) companies will find his advice a timely reminder of what they must continue doing.
—syndicated columnist

Meet the Author

Mark S. Walton is CEO of the Center for Leadership Communication, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. For more than a decade he was CNN’s Chief White House and Senior Correspondent, becoming one of the most visible and respected journalists in network news. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the prestigious Peabody Award. Walton also teaches at the University of North Carolina’s business school and is Professor of Leadership in the U.S. Navy’s Advanced Management program.

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