This week’s focus: We are, as a species, designed to be sociable and to operate effectively within groups. There is both a psychological and societal upside to pleasing others, helping them and being generous with our time.

Yet, if you are too generous and too helpful, you will simply end up sacrificing your own objectives for other people’s. And if that level of ‘helpfulness’ is replicated across your organisation, its entire productivity can be affected.

I see this pattern of behaviour in many of my client organisations. Everyone is simply so busy helping others, they have no time to get anything done themselves. Email ‘pings’ are responded to immediately, meeting requests are accepted even when there is no need to attend and, during those needless meetings, phone calls are answered no matter who they’re from. You can only get your own work done at 8pm, once you’re back home and the kids are in bed!

At a more strategic level, pet projects and low-impact initiatives are allowed to eat up scarce resources, and operating plans become overloaded with ‘good’ ideas in the hope that something will come off. It rarely does. As initiatives battle for resources and air time, they slowly suffocate each other, delivering glacial levels of progress and growth.

Saying “No” to a new idea, project, meeting or proposal requires a clear understanding of your priorities and the self-confidence to push back and disappoint others. It is a surprisingly rare management trait, but its presence is probably the single biggest difference between my most successful clients and the rest.

In fact, it’s fair to say that “No” is the most important word in driving business success. “No” creates focus and generates the energy and momentum necessary to achieve your most important tasks and goals, both personally and organisationally.

What projects, meetings and proposals have you said “No” to recently? And what decisions do you have coming up where a clear “No” could help you deliver even greater success?


Off The Record: I Can’t Say No by Rodgers and Hammerstein

I’m jist a girl who can’t say no

I’m in a turrible fix

I always say, “Come on, le’s go!”

Jist when I orta say “Nix!”


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.