Generating Buy-in: Mastering the Language of Leadership

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Foreword by William Ury, coauthor of the bestseller Getting to Yes.

Buy-in can be defined as the understanding, commitment, and action of people working to achieve strategic objectives. In 21st-century business, buy-in has become a crucial asset, and the ability to generate it has emerged as the leadership competency. The achievement of buy-in depends heavily on the ...
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Overview

Foreword by William Ury, coauthor of the bestseller Getting to Yes.

Buy-in can be defined as the understanding, commitment, and action of people working to achieve strategic objectives. In 21st-century business, buy-in has become a crucial asset, and the ability to generate it has emerged as the leadership competency. The achievement of buy-in depends heavily on the communication skills of the seller, the executive, or whoever is asking us to believe, to act, to buy.

Generating Buy-In presents a language of leadership common to the most masterful influencers in business, politics, law, and other arenas. The author describes how to use this language to build strategic stories that project a positive future, even when the immediate news may be less than ideal.

Generating Buy-In offers examples of individuals and organizations that have used this method, including Jack Welch, Ted Turner, several U.S. Presidents, Coca-Cola, and the U.S. Army. These and other examples, plus exclusive interviews, illustrate how powerful leadership communication can bring unprecedented buy-in throughout any organization.

The book features valuable tools, including sample business scenarios, a full chapter of Q & A, and a design process for creating custom buy-in exercises and transferring the lessons of the book to actual workplace settings.


About the Author:
Mark S. Walton (Chapel Hill, NC) is CEO of the Center for Leadership Communication, whose clients include Dow Chemical, GlaxoSmithKline, and the U.S. military. He is Professor of Leadership in the U.S. Navy's Advanced Management program, and a Peabody Award-winning former Chief White House Correspondent for CNN.

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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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814407882
  • Publisher: AMACOM
  • Publication date: 3/8/2003
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.64 (d)

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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Table of Contents

"Introduction: We All Need Somebody’s Buy-In

I. Understanding the Language of Buy-In

1. What Triggers Buy-In?

2. Every Leader Tells A Story

3. How Strategic Stories Will Get You 21st Century Buy-In

II. Speaking the Language of Buy-In

4. A Framework for Buy-In

5. Developing Your Strategic Story

6. The Rule of Three

7. When the Going Gets Tough, The Smart Get Buy-In

8. The Charisma Quotient

9. The Best Evidence

III. Putting the Language to Work

10. Using the Tools of Buy-In

11. Now It’s Your Turn

12. Questions Executives Ask

Glossary of Key Terms

About the Author"

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    Generating Buy-in: Mastering the Language of Leadership

    The ideas and methodology in Generating Buy-In are the most powerful and useful tools I've ever found. Any executive serious about success in sales or marketing needs to read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    Generating Buy-in: Mastering the Language of Leadership

    This book unlocks secrets of influence that top leaders have applied through the ages. Instinctively you know that Mark Walton has hit the bull's eye, because it feels right in your heart and your gut. Wonderfully simple and effective!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    Generating Buy-in: Mastering the Language of Leadership

    Walton gives us the tools to become great communicators so that we can drive success in business, politics, or even our families. Generating Buy-In is so chock-full of straightforward examples and inspiration that you'll want to start generating buy-in tomorrow!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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