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“Yes, If” Or “No, Because”

I recently hosted a luncheon of executives to discuss our on-going efforts to bring more direct flights to San Jose international airport to better serve San Jose and Silicon Valley customers.

Two top executives of an airline were with us to discuss potential service.  Both were smart, capable and articulate. The difference was vast, however, in terms of leadership style.

The first executive responded with all the reasons why it would not work for his airline to offer direct service into and out of San Jose international.  His style is what I call “No, because.”

The second executive, while completely respectful to his colleague, responded with all the issues that would need to be addressed in order to make the direct service work for his airline to fly to San Jose.  His style is what I call “Yes, if.”

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, I have the pleasure of working with 375 innovation economy CEOs.  From scrappy startups to global leaders, the common denominator for every successful CEO is a “Yes, if” attitude.  It is finding the win-win whenever possible – the art of the deal – getting to yes.

In your professional and your personal life, are you a “Yes, if” or a “No, because” kind of person? It is easy to say no – and sometimes it is the only response when common ground cannot be found.  But it is more rewarding – more fulfilling – to at least work to explore the possibilities of “Yes, if.”

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