Saturday, May 3, 2014

It takes courage to say "yes"

Today I want to talk about something a little different.  While my posts on here  have, in the past, all been technical, some of us are also in leadership roles.  So, I think that occasionally I might share some of my near 30 years of experience in that regard as well.

What I want to talk about in this post is, from a leadership pony of view, it really does take courage to say "yes", especially to a new idea.  “Definitely not,” is quicker, simpler, and easier than, saying, “Tell me more.” But, a quick “no” devalues and deflates teammates.

Some of the reasons that leaders are constantly saying "no" include:

  1. They think that it makes them look weak when they say "yes" too often.
  2. They prefer the "safety" of the state-quo.  This is another way of saying they are afraid of change, or at least it makes them uncomfortable.
  3. They haven’t clearly articulated mission and vision. Off-the-wall suggestions indicate the people in the ranks don’t see the big picture.
There are some dangers to offhanded yeses however.  Offhanded yeses can dilute your resources,  divide energy, and distract focus.  So, what do good leaders do?  They explore "yes". I know that takes time, but I believe that the time spent is a good investment.

Here are 8 questions to yes:
  1. What are you trying to accomplish?
  2. How does this align with mission or vision?
  3. Who does this idea impact? How?
  4. How will this impact what we are currently doing?
  5. What resources are required to pull this off?
  6. How does this move us toward simplicity and clarity? But, remember new ideas often feel complex at first.
  7. Is a test-run appropriate?
  8. How will we determine success or failure?
Leaders who say yes end up doing what others want and that’s a good thing.  Remember too that courageous leaders are willing to risk being wrong sometimes in order to be right most of the time. They know that decisions move the organization forward. They know that a lack of a decision is in fact a decision; it’s a decision to do nothing and that’s a decision that is almost always wrong and at times catastrophic.

So, are you a leader that says "yes"?