Buy-in or Commitment?


  • The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.


  • Agreement to support a decision

I have read extensively on leadership in an effort to improve my effectiveness at work.  It seems that no matter the angle, there is always at least one section devoted to establishing buy-in.  Something about the term buy-in always bothered me although I couldn’t articulate why nor negate the importance of having a group to drive change.  The term itself makes leading change seem like selling a product people don’t want.  That doesn’t sound like much fun!

I was conducting interviews recently when one of the questions was around the idea of getting buy-in from teachers.  One of the candidates stated that they preferred the idea of commitment rather than buy-in.  This struck me as what I have always believed, but never been able to articulate so eloquently.  Commitment in fact is what I am after. It takes much more time than simply getting people to not resist, but the wait is worth it. Commitment empties ownership and drives sustained change even in the absence of the leader.  Simply put, buy-in will produce the action of agreement and commitment will change the state of being to produce sustained dedication.  Buy-in focuses on supporting a decision ans commitment on dedication to a cause. Agreement is fickle while dedication endures obstacles.  Which would you prefer?

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