My professor for one of my leadership courses posed this question:
“Does leadership come from a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’?”
I’m not going to lie, this question tripped me up quite a bit. I wasn’t sure what it meant or how to answer it. Of course, my professor instructed that we either side with “yes” or “no”, not “sometimes” or “both”. This made the question even more difficult. I started to think of the purpose leaders serve and came to this conclusion: leaders inspire others and make things happen.
Leaders emerge when people have found a need and choose an individual who will take action. That individual is the leader and it is there responsibility to go into battle for their followers. This process doesn’t start with a “no”, it always starts with a “yes”. If your followers come to you with a proposition and you consistently tell them “no”, they will soon find a different leader who can better serve them. A leader’s purpose is not to do what they want which is why leaders who say “yes” end up doing what others want.
It’s easy and convenient to say “no”. Saying “yes” requires courage and creativity. Critics might say “Leaders shouldn’t always say ‘yes’,” and that is true but leaders should always consider and explore “yes” by asking questions like, “What is your mission?” or “What do you need in order to achieve this?”. If your instinct is to quickly say “no” try to learn more about your followers or the idea they presented you with and how you can help them get to a “yes”.
I agree with Mike Myatt’s quote, “Smart leadership creates an environment where yes is not viewed as a weakness, but as an opportunity.” Telling your followers “no” shuts them down and prevents growth and innovation from happening. An atmosphere that encourages the word yes establishes trust between the leader and the follower and allows for discussion, learning, creativity, and advancement. “Yes” is 100% positive, “no” is 100% negative. Saying yes is fun and valuable!