How many times have you said ‘no’ to one of your team in the last week? And what did that response do to that discussion? Did it stop the conversation, cramp the ideas, freeze the innovation, kill the enthusiasm and impede the learning? The simple answer to that question is ‘Yes’, ‘Oui’, ‘Si’, ‘Ja’.
A key role for us as leaders is to empower our people, help them learn and grow and help them succeed. How can we do this if we are constantly saying ‘No’? Mike Myatt recently challenged the well-known belief that leaders need to master the use of the word ‘No’ to become successful. Mike’s argument is that the word ‘no’ is always negative, and instead we should try and foster an environment where the questions being asked will be answered ‘yes’ more often than not.
This seems like a bit of a truism, but it makes sense when we think about what we’re trying to do as leaders. If a member of my team came to me with an idea I was unsure of, saying no ends it right then and there. There is no opportunity for the team member to reflect and learn as to why the idea wouldn’t work, and in doing so improving future ideas for the business. It also prevents a thought process that could develop the idea into something that I would agree with.
The solution is not to say ‘yes’ to absolutely everything – of course that would lead to chaos. Instead we should approach these problems with an attitude of learning. Ask your team member to explain why they think it’s a good idea and how it would contribute to achieving your team’s goals. Thinking through an idea like this will allow both of you to understand the nuances and potentially develop a better idea that you will say yes to. You might even realise that it was a good idea to start with, but that you were missing something in your own interpretation of it.
Most importantly you empower your team and enable them to grow and develop as an individual and as a team. So next time you’re about to say no, instead ask some questions. Your team member/s will be able to learn something about your thought process, and you’ll probably learn something about theirs. Try this for a while and you’ll start seeing results. You’ll also begin to appreciate the power of ‘yes’!