I had the opportunity yesterday to spend a few hours with six fantastic Emerging Leaders who are busy transforming the future of a successful and fast-growing company in Texas. They were collectively a bit concerned because they are finding that the pains of rapid growth are getting in the way of the long-term strategic projects that they need to be working on. We talked at length about how they’re feeling, how everyone else in the company is feeling about their contributions, about the ravages of the imposter syndrome and insecurities, and about how important it is to just focus on moving the ball forward as consistently as you can.
The Secret Of Success I’ve noticed that many times, intelligent young Emerging Leaders have this notion that success comes in a flash, like the arrival of a comet, or the selection of a ball in the lottery. That, my friends, is not how success occurs in most instances. Lasting, long-term success is borne of a person and their team toiling in obscurity over a long period of time, making a ton of great decisions that keep your actions proactive and positive and keep moving you forward. Success almost never comes in a flash of good fortune and brilliance. It comes from steadiness and persistence, and from a large stack of proactive and positive decisions and actions that keep propelling you forward. Unfortunately, many of us move forward on Monday and then let Tuesday and Wednesday move us back before we move forward again on Thursday, and so forth. I encouraged these great Emerging Leaders to change the way that they think and to realize that success comes from consistency and persistence. I encouraged them to focus their efforts on trying to gently, subtly increase the number of times they could continue moving forward toward their goals, not to get concerned or upset about an occasional day when they were forced backward. Success comes in time, and sometimes it takes more time than we expected. Don’t let that deter you, just continue to focus on generating positive forward progress. Focus on proactively working on your most important priorities, and the rest just seems to fall into place.
The Importance Of Saying No I’ve also noticed that many inexperienced Managers and Leaders struggle to say no to requests that damage their ability to remain focused on work that is most important. I’ve seen that some of these talented Emerging Leaders haven’t yet learned how to exercise their personal power in ways that build trust and strengthen their relationships with others. Sadly, too often, some of these people say yes, precisely when they should say no. This desire to be viewed as a great team player becomes an obstacle to their success. So, how do you say no, and generate goodwill and build trust while doing so? First, make sure that your pattern of responding doesn’t leave your audience with an impression that you don’t understand them or their need, and ensure that you are demonstrating respect for their request. Instead of saying “No, “or worse, “Hell No!” try saying “Hey, I understand that this is important and that this project carries great importance and impact to our client. I want you to know I fully support helping you and the team to get this project done on time. I am already committed to other high-priority work during the timeframe of your request, and I cannot break my promise to the people I’m committed to. Is there some way that we could compromise on the timeframe so that I can help you during another time? If not, could I engage someone else on my team who might be able to help you to accomplish your goal? There are several keys to saying no so that you maintain trust and build team relationships. 1)Frame your response in a collaborative way where you are trying to become a part of the solution through compromise. 2)Explain the context of your inability to say yes at the moment, so that it is understood that you want to help. 3) Invite an agreement to an alternative solution that might not be what you were asked for, but still might get the job done, albeit via another path.
We had a great conversation and these wonderful young lions and lionesses went back to their priorities yesterday armed with a healthy understanding of how to say No and when to say No so that they are positioned correctly. It’s absolutely essential to anyone who wishes to accomplish great things, that they learn to say no in ways that help them and their colleagues to still be able to get to yes in the end. If you’ve struggled with finding the right time and method to say no so that you can get your most important work done on time, remember that almost all of the most successful folks in history have all said that FOCUS is the key to their success. They all had to learn how to say no to many requests for their time and attention, but in the end, doing so did not deter them from great success, rather, it probably propelled them to that success. You can do likewise…
Michael is a Master Business Coach and an expert on Executive Development and Leadership. Michael runs a coaching and consulting firm with offices in MN, FL, and AZ. Michael and his fellow Coaches and Master Coaches help Emerging Leaders in fast-growth companies to hone their leadership and management skills so that they can position themselves and their teams for game-changing success. If you’d like to speak with Michael about your challenges or opportunities, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.