MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How do you get buy in for a new idea? is written by Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell.
When you step back and really think about it, the answer is pretty intuitive. You get buy-in by truly listening, finding common ground and then leading with passion and determination to enforce the initiative.
So, start by listening. Alternative points of view can open doors to collaboration, innovation and problem solving. It’s perhaps the most important practice for a business leader working to build a winning culture for his or her team; and even more critical for keeping a company differentiated and relevant in an ever-changing world.
Today, customers are looking for partners who not only listen, but also act to better serve them. I’m fortunate to work for a company that does both. We began as a direct PC company, and that direct connection with our customers remains the cornerstone of Dell. Yet when social media arrived on the scene, it took us to a new level, allowing us to listen and act in real time – and, quite frankly, better and faster than our competitors. We’ve evolved over the years to become an enterprise solutions provider. Why? Because that’s what our customers told us they wanted and needed in an IT partner. They’ve given us permission to help them with an even broader set of their IT needs — and it started by simply listening.
Additionally, in order to have buy-in from your employees, they need to feel personally connected to the product or initiative. We all know this, but it too often gets pushed to the backburner. Like-minds rallied around a common purpose can yield far more than buy-in; if done right, it can become a powerful movement that sparks innovation.
I found a meaningful purpose at Dell that extends beyond marketing and technology: a champion for women in business. I have the privilege of sponsoring our largest employee resource group, Women in Search of Excellence, and hosting the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network Summit (DWEN), an annual event that brings women from around the world together to help them grow and scale their businesses.
It’s remarkable how much women — united by a common purpose — can help each other. When you walk into the room during these events you can hear a steady buzz of storytelling, community building and encouragement – rooted in collective purpose. For me personally, seeing the success of these women keeps me energized and passionate about my own career and purpose. And it has, in fact, inspired a global movement at Dell led by our founder Michael Dell known as #EntrepreneursUNite, a platform that encourages world leaders to make entrepreneurs — the number one source of new jobs and innovation — a global priority.
The great news is listening and getting buy-in, grounded in purpose, are skills commonly shared by natural born leaders — and by women. It’s an advantage we should all embrace in pursuit of both our professional and personal passions. Because when we do, we will change the world.