The best leaders say no, right? That’s what we are going to talk about in episode 4 of 11 in this mini-series discussing the top 11 traits of amazing leaders. Remember, throughout this series you are to be looking at your mentors, the leaders you have worked with, etc., and ask yourself: Do I see these traits in them?
You see, the best leaders do indeed say no. They understand something super important about their time that not a lot of people actually understand or apply. I was reading an article in the Harvard Business Review the other day by Max Bazerman called: A New Model for Ethical Leadership. And of course when you hear “ethical leadership” you kind of zone out. But hang in there with me for a second. You see, in all of this information (and it was a great article by the way) he mentioned a female professor who constantly received an inbox full of requests for her to complete tasks that were of no benefit to her, but of extreme benefit to the requestor. She in turn got with several other female colleagues and they did some research on how many requests like this each of them received. Ultimately what they discovered and shared was this: you can consider a request for your time as a request for a limited resource.
The best leaders know this. They know that time is just like money (actually more valuable but we will get to that in a future episode). You aren’t going to take your entire business budget and blow it on a girls-only weekend trip, are you? No, because you know that your working capital in your business is critical to your business success. Money or cash is a limited resource and we treat it as such. But can you say you treat your time in the same capacity?
Do you overcommit to work? Do you take on too many projects or try to do it all? That’s not treating time as a limited resource.
Do you clean your house, mow your grass, sit by the pool to watch the kids swim, go watch one of your children play sports, or handle a client phone call your direct report simply can’t handle? While all of those things need to get done, you shouldn’t be the one saying yes to all of them. The kids in the pool, the ballgame, and the bath are all yeses. The cleaning and mowing are tasks you can delegate or hire someone to do. Last but not least, the call to the client should be something your direct report does, if they can’t, why do you need them? Hire someone who can do their job.
There are things in your business and your life that only you can do. Focus and allocate your time like the limited resource that it is. When you say no, then you can start saying yes to the right things.
So again, do you see this trait in the influential leaders around you? Do you exhibit this trait? How do you start saying no so you can say yes?