Lessons in Leadership: Help Me Say Yes


LOS ANGELES, August 8, 2016 — Recently, I celebrated my 25th consecutive year of making a trek to Las Vegas with the same 5 college buddies.

Over the years, we have learned that the best times are the “boring” times like driving because we end up having deep conversations about life. This past year was an especially powerful discussion lead by one of our friends who has a teenage daughter. He shared with us a simple question he asks her when she wants something that he is not comfortable with: Help me say Yes!

What does this have to do with business you ask? Everything! Leadership within an organization requires foundational steps. These steps mean achieving different levels of trust which can only be earned if you want it to be effective. There are thousands of examples of leadership by force but history has proven that over the long run, without trust, things don’t go as planned.

So what does “Help Me Say Yes” mean? Let’s break it down!


In a business organization, Help stands for invitation. This is a true invitation for your team member to approach and discuss a situation that needs addressing. Many attempts are made to create an environment where people can feel comfortable to express their needs but where failure always sticks its head where it does not belong is when it is not a genuine culture. Be honest and allow your member to talk freely.


As a leader, you need to learn to be comfortable in your role as a leader. This means letting your team know that you are in charge but willing to work with them. In my past leadership roles, there have been instances where I was super strong and terrible at this depending on the situation. Allow yourself space to grow and say “I made a mistake” but realize that you are being watched. Wear your hat with pride and know that very few have this down so don’t be too hard on yourself.


Such a simple word say but this signifies authority within an organization. As a manager, you do hold the right to make the best decisions for the company but you don’t have to know all the answers. You just need to have a process where ideas are vetted with the cumulative goal of doing what is right for the organization and the subordinate. For example, if a promotion is requested, it must flow through the proper channels. Since the decision cannot be made by the team member, it is important to let them know the decision is yours but you are there to help them with their journey. Remember, you are the leader so don’t be scared to have tough discussion. Create the proper environment and structure and it will get easier, I promise!


It is easy to say yes to anything. We have all had that one leader that we know when we “wanted” something, we would run to them for a quick yes. The key word in making the “Yes” or “No” decision is want. Help your teammate understand want versus need. Within an organization, resources are constrained so it is critical to understand this differentiation. A want is simply a nice to have. A need is something that as a manager, you must do your best to address. In the past, I have used a simple example of a computer to help get this message across. Everyone wants to have the latest computer with maximum RAM for fast processing but those computers that are fully loaded like that are much more expensive than a regular computer. If an employee wants a new computer, it is important for them to understand the constraints within an organization in meeting that want. If a financial analyst needs a new computer that can process massive amounts of data, your job should be clearly to find a way to say yes and quickly. Keep in mind that simple want versus need and this step becomes easier to navigate.

As a leader, it is important to continually work on your skillset and add to your knowledge base. Help me say YES is a great nugget to set as your foundation for creating trust and future leaders within your organization. And the best part is, it applies in other parts of your life. So the next time your teenage daughter screams that she needs to go to a $350 a ticket to Coachella, apply this simple rule and help her understand the decision making process.

Help people by including them in the process and they will learn to respect you for being a fair and honest leader even if you have to say no.

Rodney Lazar is Innovate’s SVP of Global Finance and Accounting. Rodney comes to Innovate from uSamp/Instantly, where he defined and implemented a massive overhaul of Instantly’s supply costs thus yielding significant profitability in its core business. His 22-year career at CPG companies such as M&M/Mars, Nestle, Disney, toy company MGA Entertainment, as well Time Warner Music, brings a wealth of knowledge and real world experience to the team.