Leaders must say no when necessary.

img_0300A new leader might think, “It would be great if I could give my team everything they desire.” Higher compensation, benefits, resources, information, the list goes on. But a good leader understands, not only is that impossible, it could also be detrimental. Continue reading for 5 reasons why saying “no”, when required, is important.

1. It builds your credibility. People don’t like being lied to. Eventually, they’ll find out if you give them an empty “yes”. Telling them “no”, with a reason, goes much further than the alternative. They will be able to trust your “yes” when it finally comes.

2. It holds people accountable. The unfortunate fact here is that telling your team “yes” all the time, could lead to the abuse of your good nature. Telling them “no” allows them to become resourceful and develop into the next set of leaders.

3. Gives the team false expectations. A team that gets what they want all the time, becomes spoiled. Spoiled teams have high expectations, mainly of you. You’ll be forced into stressful situations, where a hard “yes” is given rather than the proper “no”.

4. It’s impossible to please everyone, so don’t try. No matter what you do, someone is going to have a problem with your decisions. Better to work with the 80/20 rule here. 80% of the people may lean one way and the other 20% will be against them. The key is to give your “no” with a reason folks can live with.

5. It helps build your ability to influence. People who are told “no” have two choices. Accept that answer or don’t accept that answer. You have obligations and goals to meet for your team and your company. Saying “yes” at the expense of those goals will hinder your success, and by extension your ability to influence.

So don’t worry when you have to say “no”. It’s part of good leadership. Make sure you are transparent in your reasoning. Used wisely, you’ll be able to look back, connect the dots, and realize it was the right choice. You will also maintain the respect of your team and the ability to influence them.

11 thoughts on “Leaders must say no when necessary.

  1. I work for a local government body, and when our elected officials are constantly saying yes to the residents and the developers, staff are the ones left stressing out about how to solve their promises. Or over promises. Or if something thats built ends up not being great, staff is blamed, even though it’s the developers who pushed for the quick approvals, and it’s the elected officials who approved the product. They won’t let us hire more staff to keep up with the demand because the city needs to save money, but they want us to produce perfect products for the city. I wish the elected officials would learn to say no. Say no to the developer once in awhile on their projects. Say no to the resident who demands the impossible.


    1. I agree. Seems like a “no” is required here at times, but it will only work with a truthful and detailed explanation. Doesn’t sound like the developers and city officials are living in reality. Political climates are tough to operate in, much like corporate ones. When people over-promise, it creates difficulty for those who have to deliver on those promises. Furthermore, your position is made difficult because you can’t go against the promises publicly, because the public will think you are the problem. Your elected officials aren’t doing you any favors by making everyone “feel” good. Seems like they are willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. I hope someone makes an effective change here. Perhaps you and the other staff members can petition and take your issues to a higher level?

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