With the last morsel of pizza still in her mouth, our 20-month-old daughter snatched up her translucent pink plate and pressed it against her face. Through her squished nose she asked the world, “Where’s Lucy?” Not waiting for an answer, she ripped the plate down and screamed, “There she is!” before dissolving in a cascade of giggles.
Her 3-year-old brother immediately joined in, pressing his translucent green plate against his face and adding, “and where’s Luke?” At this point what’s any self-respecting adult to do? Of course, in no time Sarah and I had crummy plates pressed against our faces.
After a few rounds of this new game, Luke announced (to no one in particular), “I need to have a dance party.” He then turned to me and asked, “May I have excuse me’s, please?” I had barely answered before he was telling Sarah, “Mommy, I need a hat.” Of course he did. We all needed hats.
In a matter of minutes the kitchen table was moved and the four of us—all with different hats and instruments—were dancing to Bobby Day‘s Rockin’ Robin. After three or four songs we wound down the party and got ready to watch the movie. The whole thing took 15 minutes at most, and we all loved it.
What does this story have to do with leadership?
As a leader you need to have your “Yes” at the ready. Whether it’s an idea from a rookie, a suggestion from a customer, or a smart business opportunity that comes your way, if you’re not open and available, you—and your team—might miss out on something great. It doesn’t mean you always will say “yes”, it just means you have to be ready to say yes.
To do that you’ll have to intentionally fight against two staunch supporters of the status quo, namely: “That’s just not the way we do it around here” and “That’s not what we had planned.”
I’ll be honest, as a parent, when my kids were playing with their plates a part of me was thinking, Oh, that’s not right. I can’t let them think this is appropriate behavior. The easy choice would be to squash the fun. The harder choice is to show my kids that sometimes silliness is appropriate and other times it isn’t—and to help them learn to discern the difference. It’s more work, but it’s also much more rewarding!
Tomorrow we’ll talk about leading with a No, but until then…
Where is your default answer a NO? Are you ready to entertain saying YES?