Any boss can say yes or no. Leaders say, "Yes!" Great leaders say "yes" more often. Does that mean that to be a great leader you should say "yes" to everything? NO!
To minimize the risk of sounding like I'm talking in circles, let me get right to the point here. If you find yourself saying "no" to your team more often than "yes," the problem is not your team (ouch). Great leaders understand that planting seeds is the real power behind the ability to say, "Yes!" Like a gardener, as a leader you will reap what you sow. Are you planting the seeds in your team that will allow them to develop ideas and strategies to which you can say, "yes"?
Imparting your vision to your team is one of the most powerful tools you can use to enable them to bring creative ideas and thoughts to the table that you can affirm and let them run with. View each day, each meeting and each conference as a training or an orientation. As you model and demonstrate the qualities, attitudes, and even the script or language that you want your team to embrace, you will realize that their thoughts, goals and ideas will begin to align with your vision. Planting seeds, your words, your decisions and your actions will begin to communicate your vision, and their thoughts and ideas will become rooted in yours. Suddenly, you will find yourself listening to ideas and suggestions to which you CAN say, "yes!"
Imparting your vision takes time, repetition and, most importantly, involvement. While involvement is the critical element, it is possible for you to be involved with (and even micromanaging) your team, and still not effectively communicate your vision. So what is a great way to communicate your vision? Repetition and time. In order for you to effectively build a team of people who can help move you closer to your vision, you must be able to clearly, consisely and consistently communicate your vision. Take some time to boil down your vision from a mission statement, or even your vision statement, to just one or two words that are critical to the change that you want your team to embrace.
For example, I was recently working with a group of people at a restaurant which had just changed ownership. The staff was accustomed to the same people coming in, the same atmosphere and the same very casual rapport. The new owner had a vision to move to the next level and bring in new events, new clientel and new types of people. I advised her to begin consistently using the word "venue" rather than restaurant. Through this simple change in vocabulary, she was able to communicate in a non-threatening and even positive way, her vision for the restaurant moving forward. No one was singled out, nothing was said, but slowly the employees began to refer to the restaurant as a "venue" and their ideas, menu changes, renovations, and even the types of events that they were looking to attract became more in line with the new owner's vision, enabling her to say, "Yes!"
Think about your vision, and think about the changes that you would like to see in your team to motivate them towards your vision. Find the disconnect, and that's where you can begin to plant the seeds that will enable them to bring ideas to you to which you can say, "yes!"