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Topics: Leadership, Organizational Project Management, PMO
Why is Saying No an Art of leadership?
Entrepreneur magazine published an interesting article about times when a leader must say no.

- Saying no to a bad idea and sometimes... saying no to a good idea
- Saying no to a client
- Saying no to a seller
- Saying no to a candidate

What do you think? Can you add an example of when it is time to say “no”?
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Being strategic requires the ability to say "no" for the right reasons. A great example of this is being willing to say "no" and lose a customer if they want you to provide a service which would stray from your core competencies, dilute your value proposition, or not be relevant to your strategic direction.

Another example is a Product Owner who needs to decide what gets in or won't get in (in the near term) to a product. There may be hundreds of great ideas, but there is limited financial and human capacity to deliver so a PO has to get good at saying "no".

Kiron
For sure the leader must be able to say "no" when it needs to, however there is an art to do it the right way. For example, would you provide an alternative that meets both you and your counterpart's needs? Is it because the timing isn't right that when certain criteria are met then it can be "yes"? It is good to communicate the reasons of "no" and perhaps even work with the counterpart to make it too good to say "no".
Hi Cinzia,
Saying no, means to priorities, build clarity around what you expect.
To a client – if it’s not part of your strategic objective, if it does not align with the core competency or the domain which the company wants to build/grow.
Hi Cinzia,
agree with Dominic, saying no becomes easier if you can communicate it well.
As for times a project manager / leader should say no, I can think of
- unethical requests (bribes, corruption, taking shortcuts..)
- questions that impact the leaders authenticity and reputation
- requests that would result in unprofessional behavior beyond ethics
- requests that impact the team's safety and coherence, e.g. taking on additional load for the team (protect the team)
- requests that impact the status of the client, e.g. giving him low quality, less than promised, hiding information (protect the client)
- and in an experimental / testing environment a PM will have to say no to most suggested solutions and avoid saying yes just because being tired of saying no
As many other things people that trying to bring water to their mill installed this type of things that are buing for other people that feel have a problem with that. But the problem will not be solve. The problem will be increase with this behavor. It is not about to say no. Is about to understand a problem is the difference between the perceived reality and the desire reality. Then you have to work on perception, on desire or in the gap. If you say no only you are considering a component of at least two that are participating on the situation.
Absolutely, 'No' is just as viable of an answer as 'Yes'. It depends on the context and ability for the proposed to be realized within the confines of what is applicable in a given situation, i.e., capacity, budget, time, skills, return, etc.

There are different ways to say 'No'. Offer rationale, alternatives, or other insights that can help to build off the suggestion. Certainly do not want to hinder anyone bringing [creative] solutions to the table. That should be celebrated, however, it may not always be with a 'Yes'.

Nice topic Cinzia.
Agree 100% with Andrew. People have no issue accepting a YES and just a YES. Who has ever asked you to justify a yes? But a NO is a totally different animal and must be supported by some rationale. It is even part of child phycology, whenever you say no to your child then tell them why you are saying no. What will the consequences be if you go ahead regardless. You encounter far fewer tantrums and it is the same in business.
A suggestion. Before saying No, ask Why. Ultimately the answer may remain No but this gives you an opportunity to better understand the request and provide positive feedback. Either - "let's try this...", or "no because..."
Saying NO to unrealistic targets or expectations.
I'm actually working on the opposite end: developing resiliency when someone says no to me. The corollary would be to ensure when you say no to people that you allow them space/time to reconcile themselves to your answer.

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