Leaders Say “No”

July 24th, 2017

Last week we looked at the idea that leaders say yes.

Leaders say yes to the right things based on their values and priorities. They are able to weigh a question or an opportunity based on their values and the limited amount of time they have to devote to each of those values.

After discovering your values or priorities and scheduling them, a leader is going to have to say no to some things.

How do we say no respectfully?

How do we say no to someone coming to us with one of their priorities when it’s not one of our priorities?

1. Use wisdom and grace

As a leader in your home, job, friend group, business, etc., you will have to say no at some point.

There’s only so much capacity that each of us has and so much time in the day. We cannot say yes to everything.

One thing we must do is use wisdom and grace in our responses. Throwing back to the third point, last week’s post on leaders saying the right yes, responding with kindness is essential. We have to tactfully say no and not just immediately write someone off.

When we respond with wisdom and grace, we genuinely take into account the request, weight it against our values and priorities, look at the calendar and then respond.

There are times when we may say yes to something because we have time in the schedule when at other times that same thing might get a no. This requires wisdom and discernment.

Use wisdom to know if now is the time to say yes or no. Use grace regardless of the answer.

2. Understand why you’re saying no

We should say no based on scheduled values, not temporary opinions. There are certainly people who ask for things more often than others, and at times we might be tempted to say no more often than normal. This would be a no we give because of our opinion or frustration with someone.

When we answer with that attitude, we are not using wisdom or grace. However, when we say no because it conflicts with a value or we don’t have a spot on the calendar at this time, it makes the no easier to communicate.

We can’t play favorites with what we allow and do or don’t allow and don’t do. Everyone should receive an equal shot at receiving a yes or a no. It must not be determined by your opinion or the opinion of those around you.

Make a commitment that every response made, yes or no, will be a value-driven answer.

3. Sometimes a no is final, sometimes it is temporary and sometimes it needs to be someone else’s yes.

Once a no is not always a no.

Whether the family calendar, work calendar, school calendar or the regular monthly calendar, we operate in seasons.

Some seasons are naturally busier than others. Some seasons we travel more than others. Some seasons are naturally more restful and playful than others.

When determining our response, yes or no, we must take into account the season we are in.

If we say no, we should take the time to look at the calendar ahead and figure out if this is a final no, a temporary no or if this should be someone else’s yes.

A final no tends to be one that conflicts with a value or purpose of an organization.

A temporary no tends to happen during a particularly busy season or the organization (or whatever it is you are leading) is just not ready to say yes to that at this point. Asking at a different time of the year may yield a different answer.

A no from a leader that could be someone else’s yes means that this is something in someone else’s “wheel house.” We might need to say no, but can delegate or pass on the request to a different person who is able to say yes.

As a leader, what do you need to say no to today in order to better live out your values and priorities?

Ben Marshall has served as a Youth and Young Adult Pastor in Holland, MI since 2014 and recently became a Campus Pastor in the Fall of 2016. He has a passion for discipling youth and young adults, helping them realize their God-given potential and developing next generation leaders. Ben is married to Connie and they had their first child, Aliya Joy, in October 2016. Ben’s hobbies include blogging, playing guitar, soccer, and football. Follow him on Twitter @benmarshall3 or on his blog at youthpastorben.wordpress.com.

This post was previously published by youthpastorben.wordpress.com.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.