29 Nov

The Leadership of Saying Yes

Are you a “Yes” Leader?

Odd as it seems, there are some very bright people–leaders, even–who insist that it’s impossible to become a good leader without becoming a master at saying “no.” But if you stop and think about it, doesn’t that seem a little backwards?

When we talk about being a Yes Leader, we’re talking about those leaders who are willing to say Yes to challenges, turning what some might consider a negative situation into an opportunity. As a Yes Leader, your attitude towards life plays a huge role in determining both your personal fulfillment and your ultimate success. Being a naysayer not only alienates you from the people around you, it can undermine everything you do.

It can even affect your health: Researchers have found that having a sense of optimism—characterized by enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement, and a sense of purpose—can be linked to a measurably reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

There are, of course, many times where a leader must say no for everyone’s benefit … and the ability to recognize those situations and act accordingly is certainly a valuable skill. But there’s a lot to be said for the idea of training your people how to get to “Yes.”  Yes Leaders create and nurture an environment where success comes not in the ability to say No, but in finding the way to get to Yes.

Knowledge Is Only a Part

Some people seem like born leaders, but luckily for the rest of us, knowing how to lead is a skill that can be learned at any time. Knowledge is important, of course, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle: fulfillment only comes through growth … and growth requires a specific attitude–a “yes” attitude, if you will.

A Yes Leader is the one who routinely goes the extra mile for the benefit of others. Yes Leaders are confident–not because they are sure they have the answers, but because they are committed and open to new experiences. This gives them an advantage, both personally and professionally. Whether you’re a local shop owner or CEO of a global conglomerate, when you learn to view customers as opportunities to make a positive difference in  the world, you start to realize how relevant even the most menial tasks can be. It changes the way you both plan and react.

It All Comes Down to People

It’s a cruel irony that the more ways we have to communicate, the less we actually feel like anyone is listening. Television, billboards, web pages, social media … we’re bombarded with input on a moment-by-moment basis. We learn to tune it out in self-defense … but tuning out tends to leave us feeling isolated, unimportant, and unreal.

Now more than ever, customers want to be treated like people. They want to be heard. The customer or client who has a problem wants that problem to be addressed right now. That doesn’t mean you’ll always have the answer at your fingertips; that’s unrealistic. Resolving the issue immediately would be ideal, but there are circumstances where that’s not possible. In those instances, however, you can still build a lot of good will by communicating with customers, listening, and then letting them know they’ve been heard.

Your Team Deserves Your Best

Developing a “Yes” mindset doesn’t apply just to customers: it should perhaps more importantly extend to your team. Be approachable. Be reasonable. Be fair. Become the leader your people will turn to for encouragement and insight.

Teaching someone how to navigate to yes is one of the most valuable and rewarding tasks a leader can take on. Too many managers can’t be bothered to make time for a needed conversation before saying no. And even when those conversations do occur, they’re more likely to be built around the leader’s reasons for saying no than around any arguments for getting to yes.

Your willingness to actually engage is one of the best ways to build trust with you team. They’ll feel more emotionally connected to the company and will typically contribute more overall. Seeing you doing more than the minimum–for both clients and employees–will encourage them to do the same. Yes Leaders strive to develop a workplace where people are not afraid to seek opportunity, to pursue innovation, or to take a calculated risk.

The Way to Truly Thrive

Saying “yes” and “no” is neither universally right or wrong, but it’s almost always more enabling to say yes. Becoming a Yes Leader opens you up to recognizing opportunities and taking on new challenges. Sure, taking some chances can seem intimidating, but saying no–letting that intimidation dictate your choices–is the first step towards stagnation.

Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Gary Cardone is fond of saying that “Failure is not an option!” To take that one step further, the fear of failing isn’t really an option, either: by not moving outside of your comfort zone for fear of making a mistake, you’ve failed before you even start

Will you make mistakes along the way? Sure–that’s part of growth. But to truly experience success–to truly thrive–developing a Yes Leader attitude is essential. And it can all start with one simple step:

Just Say Yes.