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Heider Professor Tackles Effective Leadership in New Book

Jul 30, 2021
5 min Read
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Fostering Employee Buy-in Through Effective Leadership Communication book cover

“Strong leaders are strong communicators, resulting in employee buy-in,” says Tim McMahon, PhD.


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Tim McMahon, PhD

You can’t be a leader without followers. If your scout troop is off splashing in the stream or chasing butterflies instead of learning how to tie knots, you need to brush up on your den-leading skills. This concept holds for the Cub Scouts as well as the corporate sector. Employees, just like their kerchief-wearing counterparts, need to buy into the mission.

How those at the top of the corporate ladder engage inhabitants of the lower rungs is the $64,000 question, says Tim McMahon, PhD, associate professor of practice in the Heider College of Business Department of Marketing and Management.

As a professor of practice, McMahon says he is an active practitioner and scholar, as well as a teacher, of marketing and management. In particular, he studies organizational performance, leadership and integrated communications within the business setting. He says the most- asked question he fields from clients of his corporate consulting business is how to get employees on board with initiatives, projects and mission. His answer: Effective leadership communication, in both word and deed, is central to ensuring employee buy-in.  

McMahon’s dissertation explored how successful leadership helped a firm, whose viability was threatened by the 2007 mortgage crisis, not only survive the turmoil but actually thrive. He continued this study in his new book, Fostering Employee Buy-in Through Effective Leadership Communication.

Published by Routledge and released in July 2021, it is a collection of “the many lessons, practices and thinking of the numerous successful leaders I have served in my career” and woven into a fictionalized narrative, says McMahon. The book’s basic premise is that employees’ engagement in meaningful work – work that will enrich the lives of customers, employees and investors – is integral to any buy-in to change. Fostering Employee Buy-in Through Effective Leadership Communication will serve as the text for McMahon’s MBA course Positive Organizational Leadership and will also be used in his undergraduate course Organizational Performance.

“As a practitioner, my scholarship is not so much focused on primary research as it is on practical application of theory,” says McMahon, who opts to focus attention on the principles behind the how and why buy-in is generated in organizations.

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Fostering Employee Buy-in Through Effective Leadership Communication book cover

Thus far, McMahon’s book has been praised by colleagues and contemporaries from Shandong, China, to Bangalore, India, and from the academic halls of New York and Columbia Universities to the executive suite at ConAgra. McMahon believes his work has resonated with such a wide spectrum of readers because the need for strong, effective leadership is universal, and at the heart of leadership is the relationship between the leader and followers.

“Three elements fuel this relationship: vigorously confronting reality, expanding individual and organizational knowledge and creating safety for members to take action,” McMahon explains.

Foster these three, and you’re on your way to success, be it weathering a financial crisis or helping your troops earn their merit badges.

To learn more about leadership and employee buy-in, visit McMahon’s website www.fosteringbuy-in.com.