The Power of “Yes”: How Does an Agreeable Approach Help CEOs?

Naturally, it’s unrealistic to assume that, within any aspect of our lives, we will be able to say “yes” all of the time.  In fact, agreeing to anything and everything on a regular basis can obviously be downright disastrous. However, there has been a quote circulating within recent years from Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, which may give us cause to rethink at least some of our knee-jerk refutations when it comes to corporate decisions.

Schmidt asserts that, in general, saying “yes” is essentially how we get anywhere in life.  Without the affirmative response, we would never meet new friends, acquire a new job, meet our spouse, or muster the capability to make any constructive changes in our lives, or perhaps even within the lives of others.

Taking Schmidt’s observation a step further, without an agreeable approach, how would a CEO ever take a chance on hiring an aspiring new talent who might prove an invaluable asset down the road? How would he or she ever make that high-risk, but immensely lucrative deal or acquisition which grew the company by a momentous percentage, turning the corner toward genuine success?

Under these terms, the “power of yes” seems like a given; however, as with most decision-making processes, it is far from being quite that simple.

With “yes”, comes risk; and in a sense, saying “no” may actually be the easier, albeit less profitable response, depending upon the circumstance.  While a CEO with a natural inclination for an automatic rebuff may be safer in many cases, it is the leader who carefully, yet frequently, allocates an affirmative response who will likely lead his or her organization toward ultimate victory.

Power of Yes for CEOs - Agreement checkbox graphic

The success of any organization is largely reliant upon the personality of its leaders, as it is clearly evident most executive decisions are subjective to the individual and the needs of the company.  Yet, there are certain instances where choosing the agreeable path is the most logical and beneficial.  According to CEO and co-founder of the social-ad platform company, 140 Proof, and contributor, Jon Elvekrog, there are particular instances where CEOs simply can’t go wrong, saying “yes”.

Here are five instances when the agreeable approach will work in your favor.

1.  Embrace the unexpected.  Even if you are not currently hiring new talent, if you encounter a gifted new candidate who could bring more value to your organization, don’t hesitate to say “yes”, by bringing them onboard, especially if your budget is allowing or can be adjusted to do so.

2.  Agree to transparency.  Of course, we may not always be entirely proud of every nuance of our organization’s process, but it is better to embrace, deal with, and ultimately solve our inconsistencies, rather than hide and deny them, which can lead to stagnation and lack of trust.

3.  Take on the occasional long-shot.  Is your company stable and making its targeted profits?  If you’re approached with a potentially promising idea or suggestion which may normally be out of your comfort zone, don’t automatically turn it down, especially if you are in a position to absorb extra investment costs.  You may just find yourself further ahead than you thought, as a result.

4.  Allow balance in all things.  Attaining a work/life balance is a crucial factor in your own success and well-being, and it should certainly translate into your company culture as well. Do you have a dedicated, hard-working staff?  Then, why not say “yes” to casual Fridays, special luncheons, monthly birthday celebrations, an annual picnic, or other bonding activities?  Don’t automatically assume that social activities will draw from your overall productivity.  In most cases, it is quite the contrary, as even small festivities have been proven to boost company morale and increase employee engagement.

5.  Say “yes” to not always being right.  When the situation calls for it, admitting to your mistakes — despite the consensus of some — does not necessarily show weakness, but rather indicates an open mind, reasonability, and the willingness to solve problems without ego.  Moreover, bringing reliable employees in on problem-solving also helps cement the collaborative culture of your organization.

Power of Yes - handshake graphic

The Takeaway

Luckily, the art of agreement, or saying “yes”, is a skill that sharpens over time.  As CEOs, but mostly as human beings, it is unrealistic to assume that every decision we make will be the right one.  Yet, we must also remember that the decisions we choose not to make, are also just as influential and significant as the ones we agree to.  Without the risk of “yes” we have no chance for success.


Fred Coon, CEO


At SC&C we offer Career Analysis to help senior decision-makers from all walks of life identify strategies and tactics to increase their value-add employment potential.