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Embracing a Culture of Possibility: The Power of “Why Not?” in Leadership

Embracing a Culture of Possibility: The Power of “Why Not?” in Leadership

By Paul Batz, CEO and Founder of Good Leadership Enterprises

Last Friday, Glen Gunderson, CEO of the YMCA of the North, was the speaker at the 103rd Good Leadership Breakfast. It was an exciting meeting, where he shared an inspiring approach to fostering the spirit of possibility and positivity within organizations. As a CEO executive coach, I always seek out surprising insights from leaders, and Glen’s perspective on encouraging new ideas caught my attention. Today, I want to share with you the significance of asking “Why not?” and how it can transform leadership dynamics.

Breaking the Barriers of Fear and Hesitation:
Glen Gunderson shed light on a common scenario in which younger employees often feel nervous about presenting or suggesting new ideas to senior leaders such as the CFO or CEO. Recognizing the fear and potential intimidation that seniority can bring, Glen emphasized the importance of avoiding excessive use of the questioning approach, “Why?” He found that constantly asking “Why?” too early and frequently might exacerbate these concerns within his organization.

A Shift in Perspective:
To disarm fear and hesitation, Glen introduced a powerful alternative: asking “Why not?” By encouraging leaders within the YMCA of the North to adopt curiosity and explore the possibilities, he sought to cultivate an environment that embraced learning and innovation. Instead of immediately dismissing ideas or suggestions, Glen challenged his team to consider, “Why not try this and learn something new?”

The Impact of “Why Not?” Leadership:
Glen’s utilization of the phrase “Why not?” as a CEO caught me by surprise, as it is not often heard in corporate settings. However, this approach resonated with me and highlighted the significance of adopting a positive leadership habit. By embracing the power of “Why not?” leaders can instill hope, encourage fresh thinking, and foster a sense of positivity within their organizations.

The Role of Positivity in Good Leadership:
During the meeting, we used audience response technology to gather insights on the importance of “goodness” in leadership. The audience, consisting of nearly 300 individuals, identified “positivity” as the most crucial and yet challenging element of good leadership, with 50% of respondents acknowledging its significance.

Embracing “Why Not?” as a Positive Leadership Habit:
By embracing the habit of asking “Why not?” in meetings and discussions, leaders can cultivate a culture that nurtures positivity, hope, and optimism.
This approach not only encourages open-mindedness but also sparks new ideas and creative solutions. By reframing the question from a negative perspective to a positive one, leaders can inspire their teams to embrace new possibilities and overcome self-imposed limitations.

The power of “Why not?” lies in its ability to challenge the status quo, break down barriers, and foster a culture of possibility within organizations. By encouraging curiosity, embracing positivity, and promoting a growth mindset, leaders can empower their teams to explore uncharted territories and unlock their full potential. So, why not incorporate this transformative leadership habit and witness the positive impact it can have on your organization? I encourage you to ask “Why not?” in your next meeting and share your experiences. Together, let’s inspire a new era of leadership rooted in possibility and optimism.

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