If you make a point of always saying “Yes”, there’s a real danger that someone else’s disorganisation becomes one more job on your to-do list.
Like most people, you probably enjoy saying “Yes”. After all, it demonstrates your energetic, can-do approach and shows how cooperative and supportive you are. Best of all, it makes people smile and like you. But beware the flipside, where being too ready to say “Yes” may be detrimental to your reputation, your relationships with others and your role as an effective leader. Read more
Failing to Say “No” – The Consequences
Failing to say “No” condones other people’s disorganisation. If you’re always there to help a team member meet a deadline, what incentive is there for them to improve their workflow management?
Failing to say “No” gives people permission to keep on asking for what they want without respecting boundaries. If you’re always willing to provide that extra service, how will your clients learn about scope creep?
Failing to say “No” means you may get lost in ‘busy’ work and lose the big picture perspective that it is your job to focus on as a leader. Not all the little jobs are important and some have no relation to your declared goals for your business. If you don’t discriminate, your resources will be gone but your goals won’t be met.
Saying “No” – The Benefits
Your ability to say “No” creates an opportunity for delegation, a hallmark quality of effective leadership.
Your ability to say “No” is an opportunity for education as you demonstrate to those around you what it means to stay focussed, despite the persistent demands that vie for your attention. By not asking “How high?” whenever someone says, “Jump”, you are leading by example and empowering your staff to do likewise.
Your ability to say “No” enables you to consciously recommit to your vision and goals, planning and prioritisation and allows you to protect your own time as well as your whole organisation from interruptions.
It’s a skill
Saying “No” effectively, without feeling guilty or damaging relationships, is a key skill for successful leaders. Skilful communicators know how to say “No” clearly and directly while expressing themselves with grace and with appreciation for the request.
Using the phrase “I have a policy … “ shows that your response is not personal. For example, “I have a policy not to step outside the scope of my client agreements”. It’s also possible to tactfully indicate the conditions under which you might say “Yes”. For example, “We could certainly provide that for you if we had a formal work agreement in place”.
In terms of shoring up your business for productivity and profitability, the word “No” – when you use it wisely – may turn out to be one of the most positive in your vocabulary.