Before jumping into today’s topic of “YES”, I want to take a moment to acknowledge Nurse’s Day today. The past decade has been a marvelous learning curve for me in regards to health care and many of my best tutors have come from the nursing ranks. I do wish that confidentiality did not preclude naming these marvelous mentors. I can only say that I am so appreciative of your teaching. You have taught me in an unique way way service and sacrifice mean. I am reminded of the phrase attributed to St. Francis of Assisi “Preach the word always, and when necessary, use words”. Thank you, and you know who you are, for walking the talk!!
On to today’s topic:
Covid 19 has come with astonishing speed and devastating impact. And, as your organization comes back to the worksite and the ‘next normal’, as it is being phrased, you can play a significant role as to how the next normal culture is seen and implemented.
Many of you work within massive organizations with their necessary, and sometimes unnecessary, norms and procedures.
Consider the following account told by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon:
A corporate hierarchy is an obstacle if you want to continue to be inventive. A corporate hierarchy is typically a path of gates. So let’s say a junior executive comes up with a new idea that they want to try. They have to convince their boss, and their boss’s boss and their boss’s boss’s boss and so on. And any ‘no’ in that chain can kill the whole idea. Alternatively, think about the start-up model that we were just mentioning. I go to Sand Hill Road (in Silicon Valley), I go to the first VC (venture capitalist), they say ‘no’. I go to the next VC. They say ‘no’. I can get nineteen ‘nos’ and one ‘yes’ and I’m in business. And so the VC model is multiple paths to ‘yes’. The nineteen ‘nos’ don’t matter. And so you need to also have multiple paths to ‘yes’ inside of a larger company. I’m a huge proponent of that. And I often will disagree and commit, and I encourage other people to do this. I’m like “this idea doesn’t make sense to me”. I’ll be totally honest about it. And I’ll give them all my reasons. But I’ll say, “Look. Your’re a high judgement person. Go try this”. This is what multiple paths to ‘yes’ means.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon as quoted in Innovation Capital, by Dyer, Furr, and Lefrandt, p. 202)
Now you might say, “I am not in a position to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. I don’t have that power”.
I understand that. And you probably have more power than you think. I do know that it is easier, short-term, to be ‘no’ leader. You keep the control closer and you stay in your comfort zone better.
Being a ‘yes’ leader puts you at risk. When you say “Go try this”, you are putting your reputation on the line. Not a comfortable feeling…just leads to incredibly loyalty and surprising results. But rarely comfortable.
So today’s message is simply, as you enter the next stage of the current crisis, will you be a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’ leader? How would you want to be led?