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Dr. No

by Randall Craig on April 22, 2008

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

It can’t be done. We’ll look bad if it doesn’t work. We’ve tried it and it didn’t work. So-and-so said that we shouldn’t do it. That’s not the way we do it here. That’s not your job. That’s not my job. You’ll tick off so-and-so if you do it. You’ll tick off so-and-so if you try.

There are hundreds of ways to stifle initiative, and most workplaces have a few people who are bona fide experts at it. Yet if we think about it, there are also hundreds of ways to improve initiative, both in others and in ourselves. Unfortunately, it is easier to say “no”, than to envision unknown possibilities.

Becoming comfortable when others take the initiative – even with all of the uncertainty their ideas bring – is a vote of confidence, and positions you more as a coach. If you say no too often, people will stop coming to you for feedback altogether, reasoning that it is easier to go around an obstacle than through it. Encourage initiative and you can guide others’ ideas – and share the credit.

This week’s action item: Choose to be Dr. Yes, by stopping yourself immediately when you’re about to say (or write) something that shuts down another’s initiative. Shut down others too often and you’ll find that you’ve also shut down yourself.

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Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)