MasterCard CEO Ajay Banga credited one of the most important leadership lessons he has learned to the managing director of Nestle India, where Banga started his career as a young management trainee. The director, he said, would never take “no” as an acceptable answer. One had to rephrase it to “Yes, if…” and describe what kind of support they needed to get the job done. “You can change the entire feel and look of a company by making people realize that they’re not empowered to say no,” Banga noted. “They’re empowered to say “yes, if.” It changes the bureaucracy, the culture, the passion, the purpose — it changes everything."
Banga says that making a decision—saying “Yes, if…”—is much better than saying no. “If you can do that [for your employees], then you can, I believe, set free the animal spirits of a company. And—I am telling you right now—we have animal spirits in our company.”