8. Never Say ‘No’ Too Soon and ‘Yes’ Too Late – 21 Success Sutras for Leaders

Chapter Eight

Never Say ‘No’ Too Soon and ‘Yes’ Too Late

Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.

 

Harry Truman

People often blame others for the lack of opportunities. They often blame God for not providing opportunities. It is the intelligent leaders who scan the environment, spot opportunities and grab them.

What is Opportunity?

Opportunity is like a beautiful woman approaching you on wings. Once you’ve seen her, you must grab her and wed her, otherwise she might go elsewhere to someone else who will spot her and care for her.

Leaders and Opportunities

Leaders have a knack of spotting opportunities and are smart at grabbing them. While cynics complain at every opportunity thrown at them, terming them ‘threats’, optimists are grateful for every threat thrown at them, viewing them as opportunities. Leaders are aware that opportunities come in disguise, and therefore they grab them as and when opportunities are thrown at them. They know that opportunities are not handed on a platter. Hence, they keep doing what they are supposed to do, and when opportunities come in disguise, they effectively capitalize on them. Jack Welch once remarked, ‘Leadership is seeing opportunity in tough times.’ In fact, tough times are the best times to spot opportunities, as most people are on the run towards safety.

Mark’s Opportunities

Opportunity often comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat.

Napoleon Hill

Mark worked in a research organization as a researcher. The company had to close down due to recession, and all employees were shown the door. It was a challenging time for all employees. However, Mark took up the challenge and tried for employment in an academic institution, where he could share his knowledge. In fact, Mark had joined a research organization to hone his research skills, which are required in teaching. He had resigned from the academic institution as a professor, and joined a research organization to work for at least a year to become a successful academician. He had a great amount of experience in industry, teaching, consultancy and training, but craved a considerable experience in research organizations. Hence, he joined one such organization.

Mark converted this threat of organizational closure into an opportunity as he was drawing close to one year’s experience, and began trying for a position as professor in an academic institution. During the interview, the selection committee enquired whether Mark could justify himself as an academician, as he had broken his links with the academic institution for almost a year. In reply, Mark spoke of his passion for teaching, and said that he had joined the research organization to widen his knowledge base. He also added that research was an integral part of teaching, and academicians with research backgrounds could add more value to the teaching profession as they would be backed—and packed—with more information, which is usually missing in academic books. The selection committee was overwhelmed by his response and academic passion, and offered him a post of senior professor and dean at their business school. Mark was pleased with this offer and excelled as a successful academician. From this story, it is obvious that everything is present in our minds. We must know how to convert threats into opportunities.

Problems and Prospects

Albert Einstein had rightly remarked, ‘Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.’ Every problem contains several prospects in disguise. Every threat provides several opportunities when viewed properly. That is possible only when we see the big picture. That means seeing the invisible, something that is possible for leaders. Hence, leaders always look at opportunities rather than at threats. When one door closes, leaders often look at the door that has opened, instead of the one that has closed. As has been rightly said, a pessimist sees threats in opportunities and an optimist sees opportunities in threats.

Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Nissan Motors Corporation, adopted the shut up and execute style while turning the company around. Often, leaders talk too much and do too little. However, Ghosn adopted the opposite approach. Initially he faced a number of challenges. But gradually, he overcame them and achieved success.

People often have a tendency to mitigate threats. However, the leaders have the uncanny ability to convert threats into opportunities, thus bringing stability and progress in their companies.

When we observe strategic planners and senior leaders within companies, we see that they have the ability to spot opportunities in emerging threats. They have an uncanny ability to turn threats into opportunities. They do not lose pretty opportunities by saying ‘No’ too soon and ‘Yes’ too late. Hence, always give a long thought to these two short words to excel as a successful leader.