enjoy reading a variety of leadership and business
books. On one of my recent business trips, I found
myself strolling through an airport bookstore and
stumbled upon Tina Fey's book "Bossypants."
was immediately intrigued by the title "Bossypants" and
because it is an autobiography, it sounded like it might
be about her admittance to not being the best of
it captured my attention, I looked at the cover more
closely and there she was, Tina Fey, posed on the cover
with hairy, man arms. Why? Was this image somehow
tied to her message of being a bossypants? Or was
it simply a comedic statement? I decided that it was
probably the latter, yet despite my intrigue, I
refrained from purchasing it right there on the spot
because it seemed so silly.
wasn't until I got my Kindle, that I reconsidered
purchasing it. I guess that image of Tina Fey with
hairy, man arms bothered me more than I thought.
Having an electronic reader allowed me to read it
without having to look at that cover each time I picked
it up. I did learn a lot about the business of
comedy (probably more than I really wanted to) but more
importantly I learned an interesting leadership
lesson I learned was the power of YES; not as a response
to a question, but as an
that may not seem very groundbreaking.
not until you realize how little YES we have when
leading others that you really start to see the power of
YES as an attitude.
idea was presented in the book when Fey was explaining
how comedians engage in improvisation; the rules of the
game, so to speak.
you have ever watched an improv show, it is clear that
those leading the show aren't planning how or where the
dialogue is going. In fact, as a participant in
improv you have no way to control, direct or be
responsible for what anybody says to you or how they
even respond to you. You only have the ability and
the role to listen and react to what is being
a bit like real life, doesn't it?
yes. But in environments where authority is at
play (parenting and leading) we mistakenly believe that
we can control, direct or be responsible for the words
and reactions of others. In reality, we can't.
Like in improv, we can still
only react accordingly to what is said. We own our
own words and reactions, not the words or reactions of
In this context, A YES
attitude isn't about
positive thinking, or positive re-framing, it is
simply about accepting what the person has said to you,
not arguing with them, or trying to change it, or
determine how or why they said it, but simply hearing
and accepting that it was said and building on it from
Think for a moment how
little we see this really at play in the business world,
or perhaps even in your home life with kids, a spouse or
is a difficult leadership lesson and one that I admit I
still struggle with.
When guiding and developing people, I always
thought that if they could only watch me, learn from me
and observe me, they would ultimately see "how it was to
be done." However, the problem with this line of
thinking is that they aren't me and I am not them.
It's based on a fundamental flaw
that I can actually direct, control and teach others to
react exactly as I would react. Nothing is further
from the truth.
Unfortunately, leaders do this all the time
with their associates and parents do this all of the
time with their kids.
In trying to control, direct or teach others to
react and say things as you would,
you aren't listening or
accepting what they are saying. You diminish not
enhance, their ability to think and act on their own
feet. You also negate their involvement and
demotivate them from participating in the
a YES attitude
that you have to agree with their perspective, but it
does mean that you must listen and accept their idea and
allow it to be.
the power of YES as an attitude allows for innovative
communication and exchange while pushing back
accountability and responsibility to the other
the words of others and reacting to them accordingly
ultimately engages and develops others to a whole new
After all, isn't this the ultimate role of a
Fey as a comedian was definitely schooled in using YES
as an attitude. However, did she transfer this
skill into her leadership roles? Maybe not as much
as she could, because if she had, she wouldn't have been
as much of a bossypants, would she?
maybe she wouldn't have had hairy, man arms on the cover
what about you? Are you accepting what others are
wondering what your next step should be?
Consider one-on-one business coaching to
help you get clear on what's next and how to position
yourself for success. Contact Laura for some customized
and personalized coaching.
Lopez is an award-winning author of The
Connected and Committed Leader.
She is also a consultant, and a Birkman Method
certified business coach who has been featured on the
Today Show and Fox News.
addition, her accomplishments have been highlighted in
several business periodicals
including Personal Excellence, The Long Beach
Business Journal, The Houston Chronicle, Latina
Magazine, and Central Valley Business Times. Her
articles on management and leadership are regularly seen
in Leadership Excellence.
can be contacted via her Web site at: