November 6, 2017 //

10 Reasons Why Great Leaders Practice Saying No

One of the most important words a great leader can say is… NO!

Let’s try an experiment… Find a quite spot by yourself and make sure no one else is around. When you are completely alone say the word “NO” aloud, with conviction and courage. My bet is that one of the following things happens:

  • You say it with ease. In that case, you are already comfortable saying No and you can skip forward to another post or discussion. (Next)
  • You feel a strange sense of empowerment and perhaps even get giddy with the possibilities.
  • You can’t bring yourself to say it and you get a strange feeling in your stomach. No that’s not last night’s leftovers in there, it’s your friend, fear.

In today’s world, we’ve all been trained to think that no is a bad word. We want to please everyone. We want to be agreeable. But, I’d like to give you 10 reasons why you need to practice saying “No” to be a great leader.

  1. How often do you overcommit yourself and can’t possibly give the proper time and attention to what matters most in your life? Triple book myself for meeting today, sure no problem!
  2. It will keep you from having to do things that you don’t enjoy or want to do, these activities drain you and make you less productive.
  3. If you always say “Yes” then it’s expected. The shock and awe of a well-placed “No” can turn heads and help make a big statement.
  4. It saves your team from distraction. No, we can’t do that random request today, but let’s see when we can get it scheduled for you.
  5. Most of us remember the “Just say no” campaign to drugs and alcohol as a child. Well, as adults we are asked to do unhealthy things as well and the rule still applies.
  6. It forces you to make an on-the-spot judgement call about whether a request will be beneficial to you or your team.
  7. People will respect you more when you set boundaries with them.
  8. Your team will ask you for things that they want… Can we get the iPad Pro’s? Our regular iPad screens aren’t big enough. Great leaders shut down most of the wants and focus on taking care of needs instead. Everyone has met a spoiled child before, right?
  9. It’s ruder to say yes and then find an excuse not to follow-through then it is to say no up-front and be honest.
  10. Saying no can be fun.

Go ahead, you now have permission to give “NO” a try!

Try it and share your thoughts about what happens in the comments below.

2 Responses

  1. Steve says:

    Nice post. I like the fact that you gave us ways to practice saying “No.” Wants vs. needs is an important distinction.

  2. Brian Rabon says:

    It can be hard to say no in the face of factors like peer-pressure or our own need to feel accepted. Saying “no” is setting a boundary and in effect standing up for ourselves in a healthy and respectful way.

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