Transactional Leadership | Part 4 | Buy-in vs. Trust

Note: This is the fourth of a 5 part series on Transactional Leadership.

We've been talking about the differences between Transactional Leadership and Servant Leadership. We're learning 4 words to disrupt our leadership foundation.

So far we've seen the difference between:

Today we're going to discover the difference between buy-in vs. trust.

Once the Transactional Leader has begun to leverage the 'value' of his followers and started 'investing' in them, his next step is to achieve 'buy-in' from those who follow. For the Transactional Leader 'buy-in' is critical. Have you ever noticed the difference in the way employees and owners work? For owners, business is personal. It's more than their livelihood, it's an expression of who they are. But employees are different. For an employee a job is what they do, not who they are. When casting vision transactional leaders are looking for buy-in. Buy-in is more than positive affirmation. It's a whole-hearted acceptance of the vision cast by the leader. Buy-in is the difference between an owner and an employee. My uncle used to say, "When I was young I thought I wanted a career. Now that I'm old I realize I just wanted a paycheck." Think about the things you 'buy-in' to. If you're like me you're a discerning shopper who looks for the best deal possible before making any kind of purchase. You're not going to buy-in until you're certain you're getting the best value possible. And that's exactly how followers shop for leaders. Which visionary leader will offer me the best deal? As the leader how can I package the vision so people will give themselves to it? Too often, striving for buy-in reduces the most beautiful of dreams down to a clever catch phrase and slick marketing, the heart of the matter lost one talking point, one sound bite at a time.

Trust is different from buy-in. Trust develops slowly and it's affects are longer lasting. Trust grows from the seed of respect and blossoms in the refreshing waters of service. Trust is a two way street. Followers trust leaders who respect them and who serve well. Leaders trust followers who respect the significance of the work that needs to be done and who faithfully serve to fulfill their responsibilities.

Changing an organization based on Transactional Leadership can be difficult because the group has bought into an idea, a method for how things are done. In order to change direction the value of the new idea has to be sold to those responsible for guarding the current system. It's a tough sell from the start.

In trust-based leadership I'm not simply following an idea or a method. I'm not serving a system. I'm part of something bigger than myself that's made up of other individuals, men and women on whom I rely for my own success. It's relational, not transactional. I trust that others in the organization are giving their best for the good of all and they can trust that I will do the same. When change becomes necessary it comes more easily, the merits of the new idea strengthened by the trust found in my relationship to those I lead and those who lead me.

Next time we’ll compare two final words to disrupt our leadership foundation. In the meantime consider the following:

  • What do you think is a groups biggest barrier to trust?
  • When leading through a change how do you determine which key influencer the group trusts the most?

God bless,
Chad