Organizations crave the “can-do” attitude. It speaks to empowerment and a do-whatever-is-necessary eagerness. Businesses win with such an approach.

But what if people misunderstand what a can-do attitude is? Is it possible some people, in an effort to create “can-do” actually manufacture a “can’t-do” workplace?


“Saying ‘yes’ is not a ‘can-do’ attitude,” shares a participant. ‘Too many people think they’re supposed to say ‘yes’ to all requests.” These people cannot be blamed; their intentions are noble. It’s their approach that must be refined.

The equation is simple: (yes × quantity) × magnitude of project ÷ time = productivity level.

Unfortunately, the average performer mistakes “no” as the only alternative. This also leads to a “can’t-do” workplace and miserable results.


The answer lies in the middle. Between a blind “yes” and the dismissive “no” is the land of co-creation. It’s where mutually determined priorities are formed. It’s where conversations take place.

In this space of collaboration, supervisors move from:

  • “Do this fast,” to “Where does this sit on your priority list?’
  • Instead of “Here’s something we need to do,” and then walking away, the question is added, “What will come off your to-do list to get this done?”

And the employee’s role in this cooperative space is delivered by asking questions like:

  • “How can we ensure that this aligns with our objectives?’
  • “Given the other actions steps we’re taking, what time line do we want to use?”
  • “What projects do we delay to deliver on this priority?”

The “can-do” attitude is not asked for – it’s created. How will you develop it today?

What is the difference between what “might be” and what”can be”?  You decide.

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