Can you imagine working for an organization that started every conversation with "yes" and asked how can we get there? Wouldn't that be amazing? The default condition for any forward-thinking organization could be and should be guided by one word: "Yes". Believe it or not, yes can be a default. It can be the place where we start conversations instead of end them. It signals an attitude about problem solving and finding win-win opportunities. It is the beginning of something great.
To start this "yes" revolution, start your meetings and conversations by finding a way to get to "yes". This doesn't mean it's the yes you were hoping for, or even that you will get there, but it's a great starting place for the discussion and that approach can frame the desire to succeed for all involved. What if everything were possible, not impossible?
To clarify, starting every conversation with finding a way to get to yes does not mean you are inflexible, that you suck up, or even that your desired outcome will happen. It means you will start your thought process with how do we get to yes when evaluating an idea. Yes for you and yes for me. A yes is about finding possibility, not pitfalls. What is the path that makes a concept or idea work? What is flexible in the concept and where do rules and laws need to be our guide? Where is the "yes" for all sides?
Yes is such a powerful word that people can be seduced by its power. It can be the best way to get to answers and effective solutions, but it is also filled with peril in the hands of the wrong person. So be sure to offer the right kind of yes (more on that in a minute), and then literally start every business conversation that way: "How can we get to yes?"
In my opinion, there are two types of people that succeed in organizations. Those that are really good at what they do, and those that are really good at telling others they are good at what they do. Sycophantic suck-ups are the quintessential yes men of lore. Any idea is a good idea-as long as it comes from their boss.
The other type of "yes" man is entirely different and much more difficult to be--but also more effective to creating meaningful and effective change in any organization. These "yes" men (or women) see the merits of proposals for what they are, influence the organization's direction through initiative, strategy and true leadership skills, and are valuable partners in the struggle for organizational greatness.
The rise to the top might be slower for those that don't cave to every idea their boss throws their way, but they tend to stay at the top longer and be more effective when they get there, not being subject to the whims of the latest leaders lamentations or the top dog's bark. They don't blindly follow orders or lead the implementation of lesser ideas, but help identify the real ways an organization can become more than it is. "Yes" people are key catalysts in creating creative solutions and are the bread and butter of a better business. They have the courage of their convictions and can speak truth to power. And even when power shifts and leaders change, the "yes" man is timeless in their ability to achieve results, no matter the organization or person they serve. And when they finally ascend the ladder to the top, these people can become the best servant leaders around.
The infinitely-more-disappointing yes man is subject to the whims of the next power broker on top, and you can only kiss-up and ego stroke for so long before someone comes along who just isn't interested in hearing how great they are, but is more interested in hearing how to make the organization great. Then the yes man is out on the street, looking for the next leader to leech from and latch onto.
Which are you? Are you the person who finds a way to get to "yes"? Or are you the top dog's favorite toy?
Being such a powerful word of affirmation, "yes" can be the way we decide to behave. As an organization, the power of yes is validating, humbling and understanding. It will make you feel good and do the same for those around you. In its most genuine form (yes man I'm looking at you), it signals willingness and a mind geared towards opportunity. In the hands of the right kind of leader, "yes" is the most powerful word there is. "Yes" can transform the way we start our days, live our lives and deliver services to our customers. It can make the workplace happier and encourage people to swim in the sphere of your influence. In short, when you find the desire to "get to yes", you'll find yes is seductive and its power as a concept will seduce those around you. You'll become recognized as the one in the room who finds solutions, not stoppers. You'll see possibility.
So I ask you again, can you imagine an organization who started every conversation with "how can we find a way to get to yes?" Don't you want to work here? And if you do, start today. Start one conversation with that. Start one meeting with that. And let's see if we can start the "yes" man revolution. In essence, let's see if we can make yes a default.