Hey, Chris. What a great question. This is one of the subjects I'm writing my new book about. I'd love to hear Seth's thoughts on this. But in the meantime, here are my five cents in five questions:

1. Where does the pushback come from?

Sometimes "can't do" means - "not yet" (due to technology, etc.). See Volkswagen and their emissions scandal. Many leaders say: "Bring me solutions instead of problems" but this can lead people to shut down, breed a culture of intimidation, and prevent some problems from surfacing. Having a conversation with your team members and listening patiently to understand why they feel "they can't" can reveal a lot about the problem. What if you could help them separate facts from assumptions to be tested, instead of trying to convince?

2. How clear and compelling is your purpose/mission/goal as a team?

Are people on board with what you are trying to achieve? Have they been involved in setting and articulating your goals and in deciding that this is the right way to go? Sometimes "can't do" is a veiled "won't do".

3. Are you and other people with higher status in the team role modeling a "can do" attitude? Could there be instances when you/your boss/your peers have demonstrated a "can't do" attitude towards your team members?

I often see leaders being frustrated with their team's mindset while they (or their peers) reinforce it through their own actions. How can you demonstrate the “can do” attitude yourself?

4. What are the experiences and stories demonstrating the power of "can do" that people can refer to?

It seems like the problem you’ve identified is cultural and culture is formed via shared experiences and learning. The more examples of lived experiences people have around the "can do" as a success strategy, the more it will become part of your culture.

5. Are all your practices, processes and structures enabling initiative and "can do" attitude?

I know many organizations who feel frustrated with their people's "can't do" attitude while the way they are set up stands in the way to getting things done (hierarchy, bureaucracy, what you measure, etc.)

I hope that this is helpful!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store