Leadership Includes Saying NoFor some business leaders, prioritizing yourself can be a big challenge.

A lot of people have a hard time saying “no,” but that one word is very powerful. It’s one of the most useful skills leaders need to develop, especially when it comes to living a more productive and healthy life.

The value of their time is one of the hardest things for some leaders to learn, and safeguarding it means you have to say no and be constructively selfish.

Always trying to please others can get you into trouble because it takes your focus away from things that really need your immediate attention.

What Does “No” Do For Leaders?

“Saying no to unnecessary commitments can give you the time you need to recover and rejuvenate. Saying no to daily distractions can give you the space you need to focus on what is important to you. And saying no to temptation can help you stay on track and achieve your health goals,” said James Clear, contributor to the Buffer blog.

Mary Jo Asmus, contributor to Smart Blogs on Leadership, has some tips on how to say no in order to be more effective.

Take the time to get organized.  Asmus suggests setting aside thinking time to remind yourself what is most important for you to lead your organization. If there’s an area you need to focus on, that should be your priority. The other to-do’s on your list can be delegated or placed at the bottom of your list.

Know your “no.” Keep a list of things you have pending so you are aware of everything you need to get done. Then, Asmus suggests using whatever system you have at your disposal and log everything you’ve been asked to do or think you need to do, both in the short and long term. Then check your list regularly. Do your tasks match your organizational mission and values? What’s the urgency of the request? Is there a delegation or learning opportunity for someone on your team to be responsible for some of the items?

You’ll most likely find some things you don’t need to do and other items that can be delegated. You have to let go of some of the control because you can’t do it all on your own.

You’ll get push-back so develop a strategy to communicate your “no.” There will always be people on your team who think their item is urgent and needs your attention or who think if you’re gone, the world will fall apart. It won’t, they can handle it, but sometimes they just need a push. Be honest with them about your priorities and get them to think on their own. Ask them, “What do you think?” It’s a frustrating question, but it will get them to start thinking about their problem before they come to you for a solution.

Reassess your “no’s.” This is more of that thinking time mentioned earlier. “Regular thinking time is a requirement to be deliberate in working through your list to get to the ‘no’s,’” says Asmus.

Too often people are afraid of saying “no.” However, it’s better to say no than not respond, or say yes but not deliver.

Do you struggle with saying no? How do you cope with the problem?

Image credit: vlauria via Flickr

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