Page 27 - Network Magazine Summer 2019
P. 27

I have found that the most common reasons people tend to cite in support of using no are as follows:
• Excuse: It helps to keep them from wasting time – Reality: For a leader to believe their time is somehow more important than other’s time is usually not cor- rect and is often the height of arrogance.
• Excuse: It somehow manages risk – Reality: A quick no often keeps opportunities hidden, creates infor- mation deficits, and causes blind spots – all of which actually increase the potential for risk.
• Excuse: It builds character – Reality: While its true adversity builds character, so does empathy and understanding. Life brings about enough adversity on its own – leaders who manufacture it as a teaching method have missed the point.
• Excuse: It helps them focus by not biting off more than they can chew –Reality: if your only way to pri- oritize is by saying no, then you are missing out on a lot of what life has to offer. Rather than prioritize by exclusion, use systems, processes, etc., to prioritize by inclusion.
While saying no might be more convenient, the afore- mentioned agendas are better accomplished with clear communication, effective collaboration, and prudent resourcing – not by saying no. Great leaders help people get to a yes – in other words, they teach them how not to receive a no. Rather than just kill something with a quick no, a good leader uses every adverse scenario as a development opportunity to help people advance their critical thinking and decisioning skills. The word yes is a catalyst – it begins rather than ends. It inspires rather than demoralizes, and it communicates trust rather than doubt.
In the link to the following video, Google’s Eric Schmidt shares his reasoning for creating a culture of yes. Schmidt stresses the importance of not creating a negative culture,
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but instead, fostering a scalable culture which focuses on optimism and not pessimism. I have always believed if you want to bring out the best in people, give them the op- portunity to succeed – the best way to do this is to begin with the assumption they won’t fail. If you’ve hired smart people, trust they’ll do the right thing rather than fear they’ll do the wrong thing.
While I understand that there are times when using no may be your only option, those times should be the excep- tion and not the rule. It’s also important to note that the use of “yes” and “no” are neither universally right or wrong, but there is much greater upside to enabling a yes. Think of it like this: Yes paves the path toward the future, while no affirms the status quo. Bottom line: Yes is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of intelligent leadership. Next time you’re tempted to say no, do yourself a big favor and find a way to work around the obstacle and toward a yes.
Mike Myatt is a leadership advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs and their Board of Directors. Widely regarded as America’s Top CEO Coach, he is recognized by Thinkers50 as a global authority on leadership. He is the bestselling author of Hacking Leadership and Leadership Matters, and a Forbes leadership columnist.
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