The biggest investment you can make into the professional development of your management team is simply learning when to say NO.
If your team isn’t saying “no” when they should be, they’re wasting time. They’re not living up to their true potential. They’re bogged down in meaningless tasks that destroy productivity and morale. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help them say no, and get refocused on the things that really matter.
So, how do you create a team that says “no” when it’s appropriate? This is the fundamental question you should be asking, and the consequences for your team are very real.
Learning when and how to say NO can save everyone on your team 500 hours a year! Let’s dive into why we say yes when we should say no, and how to get on the path to better leadership now:
It’s so simple. Fear is the number-one barrier that prevents us from making meaningful change, whether in our personal lives or in our professional development.
Leaders are naturally stubborn, focusing their energy on immediate outcomes and results. Your team will be afraid of implementing change and saying “no,” even when you encourage them.
Making a real connection through empathy is the fastest way to gain your team’s trust. You can empower them to actually implement this change. You’ve hired intelligent, highly capable individuals. The secret lies in unlocking their ability to act.
The problem I encounter most often is that no one in leadership is being taught how to remove the fear and enable everyone around them to be authentic.
You can challenge workers and drive hard to produce results . . . but until you show them your own vulnerabilities and fears, they won’t feel comfortable making changes that maximize those results on their own. As a leader, you’re in a position to empower your team. You’ll save yourself time and end the micromanaging that’s holding your entire company back.
It starts with you.
Being a “yes man” can stifle collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. Open up, start saying no, and unite everyone to drive meaningful changes in your organization. Start by making a list of your real fears and communicate them to your team:
When you open up and show your own vulnerabilities, your team can relate and share their own setbacks. They’ll say, “I’m scared of being reprimanded for saying “no” to one of our customers. If I could say ‘no,’ then we would save a ton of time and actually better serve them while driving more revenue.”
Your team knows where they are wasting time and losing money – but their fear of reprisal or consequences is preventing action. (Learn the right way to disagree at work.)
Asking your team to share their fears is only effective in a safe environment. Sharing your personal fears and being truly authentic is a great start – but it’s absolutely imperative that you create a psychologically safe environment overall.
Dr. Amy Edmondson, a Harvard Business School professor who coined the term “psychological safety,” defines it as, “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes.”
Google’s own research on the characteristics of high-performing teams identified psychological safety at work as the top identifier of high-functioning, goal-achieving teams. (Which is probably why they invited me to speak to their own leadership team!)
Company cultures that prioritize psychological safety see their employees take more smart risks without fearing mistakes. Their teams share more opinions with each other, feel more cohesive as a united front, learn from each other, and take more initiative than teams with poor psychological safety.
Start creating a psychologically safe environment in your workplace, using Three Principles of Authentic Leadership:
Taking the steps to create a psychologically safe environment where your team can say “no,” save time, and take revenue-positive actions is key to driving positive company culture.
Invest in professional development to create authentic leadership and foster a culture that:
Are you ready to do the uncomfortable work and build a framework for success? My workshops and speaking events are the professional development tool that will help you unlock the true potential of your team. Learn more about upcoming events and schedule private workshops for your team.