You Say Yes… I Say No….

May 2nd, 2008 by bebersghost

What makes a good leader or manager?

Answering that question would take a book (and there are any number of books written on the topic). And of course, there are many answers to the question.

But one in particular comes up often in BBYO, and it’s a bit subtle. Subtle, in that it’s a matter of attitude – yet it’s of enormous significance.

Fortunately, it’s an easy one to evaluate. A simple answer to a simple question. Ask yourself this:

When someone comes and asks you if they can do something, or how to do something, do you try to answer yes, or do you tend to answer no?

One measure of excellence in leadership is whether the leader tries to answer yes to requests. A leader who does this is one who empowers others – because they not only avoid placing obstacles in the way of their followers, they help others to overcome and avoid other obstacles. A leader who does this builds other leaders and ultimately strengthens the entire organization.

You’d be amazed how many leaders don’t do this. Why? because saying “no” is easy. Saying “no” means that YOU have the POWER. Saying NO is safe – you rarely get in trouble for saying no. If you say yes and something goes wrong, you share part of the blame – that’s scary, especially since one of the consequences of empowering others is that the end result isn’t entirely in your hands.

This principle does not apply only to youth leaders. It applies to advisors as well. A good advisor rarely says a simple “no”. When a good advisor has to set limits (and setting limits is absolutely part of an advisor’s job), those limits will always be accompanied by an explanation of those limits, a list of alternate approaches, and a willing ear to listen to further alternatives.

The principle even applies (especially applies) to staff – not only in their relationships with youth, but in their relationships with each other. Good managers empower their people. Bad ones collect information and power and thrive on their ability to say NO!

Which brings us back to attitude. The best leaders, advisors and managers sometimes have to say no. But when they do, you’ll know that they are doing it reluctantly as a last resort. And if they are really good (and if you are reasonably open minded), when they do you’ll find you reluctantly agree with their decision.

4 Responses to “You Say Yes… I Say No….”

  1. AZAleph Says:

    That’s because the absolute best advisors aren’t scared of the authority that the local directors have, regardless of the possibility that they might get fired from their posts as advisor for what they could allow to happen. That’s why the best advisors generally are alumni of the chapter that they advise for.

  2. bebersghost Says:

    While I agree with the first part, the latter part varies. Sometimes chapter alumni are great advisors. But sometimes they suffer from a tendency to try to remake the chapter in the image of what they remember, rather than allow the current generation of members to make the chapter into what they want. Of course that’s something every advisor must watch for, whether they are chapter alumni or not.

    The Ghost

  3. AZAleph Says:

    One of my advisors is an alum of my chapter, and the other is an alum of a chapter that used to be here but folded awhile back. It provides a nice balance, but our current members always dissent when something goes the way it shouldn’t.

  4. monskysghost Says:

    Hello there,

    Would like to introduce myself as yet another ghost who silently paves his way through BBYO’s haunted halls.

    I completely agree with the message made in this post – a true leader will find ways to make the dreams of others become reality as well as inspire them to dream in the first place.

    I feel that most of the comfort of saying “no” and the resentment towards saying “yes” is our passionate disdain for change. We often say no to the most ingenious ideas simply because they are a drastic change, often packaged with imperfections and mistakes. Yet, years later, we take a look at that change and realize its true ingenuity and wish we had accepted that change and said yes a long time ago.

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