The major leadership challenge is to lead innovation and change. In that sense, leaders need to move ideas through the maze of the organization. In today's organizations, with multiple businesses, numerous teams, and changing expectations, leaders need to figure out how they can overcome resistance and get support for their ideas. Indeed, a good idea is not enough. Without the capacity to get others behind your agenda, you're not really leading. The problem is that super-heroic characteristics, grand personality, and shining charisma are not going to drive ideas through the organization. Successful leaders are agenda movers who engage in the micro-political skills of execution to get people on their side and keep them there.
Agenda movers know that their good idea, no matter how brilliant, is not enough and they need to actively win others to their side. To accomplish this, they develop four key competencies: to anticipate where others are coming from, to mobilize others around their ideas, get the buy-in, and finally to go the sustain momentum and go the distance to get things done.
Anticipate. To anticipate is to think about what's next. The mistake many leaders make is to make a move and then be surprised by the fallout. As it turns out, people were not as happy with the idea as it was presented. Agenda movers not only think about what they want to accomplish, but they play multiple scenarios in their head about the possible ways people will react to their idea. To be an agenda mover, you have to think about how your ideas will play out.
Mobilize. To mobilize is to get initial support for your idea. You have to get others behind you. You have to introduce your idea to a core of individuals who will rally around your idea with a sense of cohesion, purpose, and intent. You have to share your ideas with others to ensure that you're moving in the right direction.
Get the Buy-In. To get the buy-in is to make the initial support concrete. Getting the buy-in is a process of negotiation and persuasion. You must tap the motivation of allies, potential allies, and resistors by discerning their potential motivation for joining you in your change effort. It is important to remember that initial support is not the same as explicit support. It is easy to gain initial support because nothing has been exchanged beyond a vague promise. With buy-in, you gain the commitment you need to get your idea off the ground.
Get Things Done. The biggest mistake that leaders make is to turn their attention to other business once their idea is showing signs of life. Agenda movers don't take their eye off the ball. You may have sold your idea and created a coalition, but you can only sustain momentum and get results if your team is able to keep up the energy and focus in spite of challenges, obstacles, or setbacks.
It is often thought that leaders are those who come up with the brilliant ideas. In truth, good ideas are not enough. Leadership is taking ideas and understanding that for the ideas to move forward that they have to be transformed into agendas. It's one thing to have an idea; it's another thing to have the micro-political skills to move that idea forward. It is somewhat ironic that corporations spend a fortune in training people to come up with good ideas. While important, the concern should also be leaders at all levels, from high potentials to CEOs the micro-political skills to move good ideas into reality.