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How To Learn When to Say “No!”

Let’s face it! Many people just seem to have great difficulty in saying “no” or denying any favor asked of them.

As a result, they often find themselves trapped in the middle of nowhere because of their own hastened decision

or acceptance of an unfavorable task – just because at one particular point in their life, they were afraid to say “no.”

For those who are constantly faced with this problem, the following tips will prove to be useful.

1. Do not occupy yourself with things that do not concern you.

If you habitually engage in something you hardly know anything about, you are making your situation far worse than the one who does nothing at all. On the other hand, some people seem to get satisfaction by intervening in other people’s business. Always be alert and possess utmost care to ensure that no one meddles in your own affairs. Good moderation in all areas of life will be helpful in the end.

2. Decide first whether a task is worth your precious time.

Just a simple thought: If it will just eat your time away from the more important things you consider in your life, then it’s not worth your time. Period.

3. Avoid incurring obligations beyond your capacity.

Instead, nurture your skills and abilities for the time being. There will come a right time for you to step up; and when that perfect moment arrives, waste no opportunity. But as long as you are not sure of the outcome, say “no” in the meantime especially if the favor will just derail your strategy.

4. It is always harder to come out well from an incurred undesirable obligation than to avoid the embarrassing situation of not committing yourself from the very start.

It is a judgment test for anyone. Ask yourself this question to yourself, “Do I want to avoid them or conquer them?

5. If you have to think, take a break and take your time.

Matters that can cause an adverse change in your life require a lot of thinking. There are times when people act on the first impulse, on what they feel and think about that very instant. Certainly, this is not always the case.

Although less commonly known to people, acquiring tasks (no matter how simple they may seem) is synonymous with putting your honor at stake once you allow yourself to be involved. Be sure that when you put your name and honor on the line, everything will end up well.

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Feel free to email me at ian.burton@strataconnect.net or give me a call at +61402412550 if you have suggestions or would like to discuss further.

Developing Leadership Skills

The first area that we look at is that of Personal Attributes. This is a blend of knowledge, expertise, and competencies, encapsulated in the approach, the behaviour, of the leader. In organisations of all sizes and in all sectors, public and private, these characteristics are key to effective leadership. The essential personal attributes are as follows. 

Behaving Ethically, by: learning about the ethical issues and concerns that impact on your business sector; adopting a balanced, open-minded approach to the ethical concerns of others; considering the ethical issues and implications of all personal actions and organisational activity; raising and discussing ethical issues before proposing or agreeing to decisions; resisting pressures from the organisation or its partners to achieve objectives by unethical means.

Thinking Strategically, by: learning and understanding how the different functions, physical divisions, and layers, of the organisation should work together: understanding the complexities of, and the changes happening in, the external environment, and considering how the organisation can best respond the these; understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, and the opportunities and threats facing it; understanding how the strategic objectives are influenced by all the current and forecast influences that will impact on the organisation; understanding that the operational objectives and targets must be in line with and support the strategic objectives of the organisation; being aware of and responding to the behaviour of current and potential competitors.⚫ Supporting Corporate Goals, by: helping to create and communicate a vision which can be understood and supported by people at all levels; helping others to understand and contribute to the strategic goals; giving visible personal support to the strategic direction and specific goals set by the organisation.

Communicating Effectively, by: being responsive to messages and signals from the internal and external environments; making effective use of communication channels from and to all levels within the organisation; pro-actively encourage the exchange of information within the organisation, and amongst suppliers, customers and partners; listening to others, including those with opposing views, carefully and thoughtfully; selecting personal communication styles that are appropriate to the different situations and audiences.

Gathering Information, by: establishing multiple channels and networks which generate a constant flow of information, from within and outside the organisation; regularly and consistently gathering, analysing, challenging, and using the information gathered.

Making Decisions, by: establishing a consistent approach to the analysis of information; drawing on personal experience and knowledge to identify current and potential problems; consider a range of solutions before selecting the final one; ensuring that the selected decision is feasible, achievable, and affordable; considering the impact of the decision on all stakeholders, at all levels, before approving implementation.

Developing Effective Teams, by: appreciating the contribution of others, at all levels in the organisation; ensuring that individuals and teams are kept informed of plans, developments and issues that will affect them; ensuring that individual and team development schemes are given appropriate priority; providing personal support for the implementation and maintenance of development activities for individuals and teams at all levels. 

Behaving Assertively, by: understanding and responding to personal roles and responsibilities; adopting a leading role in initiating action and decision making; taking personal responsibility for decisions and actions; being properly prepared for involvement in activities and events; being confident and professional in dealing with change and challenges; refusing unreasonable demands; defending and protecting individuals and teams from unfair or discriminatory actions; remaining professional in manner at all times.

Concentrating On Results, by: contributing to the establishment of an organisational culture that demands high standards and high levels of performance; focusing on objectives and planned outcomes, at all times; dealing with issues and problems when they arise; planning and scheduling personal work and the work of others in ways which make best use of available resources; delegating appropriately; giving personal attention to the critical issues and events.

Managing Yourself, by: reflecting regularly on personal performance and progress; pro-actively asking for feedback on personal performance; changing personal behaviour in the light of feedback received; being responsible for your own personal development needs.

Presenting a Positive Image, by: adopting a leading role in initiating action and decision making; behaving in a professional manner at all times; being open-minded and responsive to the needs of others; visibly working towards personal and career development goals; adopting an ethical approach to all personal and organisational activity; being supportive to colleagues; demonstrating fairness and integrity at all times.

In Summary: these essential attributes are many, and difficult to maintain consistently, but they are the attributes needed by, and expected of, our business leaders. The size of the organisation, the business sector, whether public or private, is of no consequence. The leaders of all organisations should be role models for others, be visible champions of high standards of professional and ethical behaviour, be leaders who others in their organisations can be proud of, and be leaders that competitors are envious of. Not many of these characteristics are imbued in our leaders by default. They have to be learned, can be learned, and should then be continuously developed and enhanced. With these personal attributes in place, and being demonstrated in behaviour and actions, business leaders will be more effective and more successful.

Empowered Leadership

It seems that every decade or so there is some new fad that runs through the business world in terms of supervision and in the world of diversity management, downsizing, outsourcing, generational work conflicts, and the information age, things are even more complicated than ever before.

No longer does a one size fits all leadership model really work. We can’t treat everyone the same and expect that everything will just “work out” somehow. Managers and leaders must have a framework with which to manage their workers in a way that honors everyone’s unique and specific position on the job.

Empowered leadership is the way to do just that. Empowered leadership shares the power between management and the workers, thus empowering both groups. 

Conventional wisdom tells us that when those in power relinquish some of that power by sharing it or giving it to their employees, then they would lose something when in fact, they gain. 

Think about it. When people rule with an iron hand, they generally instill fear in those who work for them. Do you do your best work when you are afraid? I don’t know about you but I will attempt to comply because I want to avoid negative consequences but it certainly won’t be my best work. The absolute best a manager can hope for with coercion is compliance. If compliance is enough, then coercion might work.

However, I will gripe and complain and quietly wait for opportunities to get even. I won’t have a kind thing to say about my employer and at every available chance will seek confirmation for how I feel from my co-workers, thus spreading an “us” versus “them” mentality. 

When leaders and managers seek to empower their workers, they will gain their loyalty. Workers want to give their supervisors their best when they are listened to and respected. Without fear, their minds can be creative and innovative. 

When managers are willing to accommodate special requests and it doesn’t interfere with product or service delivery, then their employees will be sure to give back their best in return. Giving away power only increases a manager’s power.

Now, I am not talking about being a total pushover and only advocating for what employees want. As a manager, you have a two-fold job—you are to represent your employees’ desires, opinions, and suggestions to management while at the same time communicating management’s issues, concerns, and expectations to your employees. This is not an easy line to walk.

You will never get the best from your employees if they don’t respect you. You cannot be a doormat for your employees to walk over. If they believe you have no bottom line or are nonnegotiable, then they will never be satisfied and always asking for more. You will feel used and abused and the truth is, you asked for it.

As a manager, you must hold the bar high. Expect great things from each and every one of your workers. If you only expect mediocrity, mediocrity is exactly what you will get. Set the standards and lead by example. If your workers see you giving it your all, it will be difficult for them to perform below standard. 

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You must have production goals you are attempting to meet for either products or services. Always enlist the help of your employees to set the goals, with the underlying premise being continual improvement.

And as a manager, you have the responsibility to create a satisfying workplace for yourself and your workers. You cannot emphasize one to the exclusion of the other without there being undesirable consequences.

When you focus on production only and forget the human capital, you will end up with resentful, resistant, angry workers. On the other hand, when you only focus on the people and allow production goals to be compromised; you will have workers who do everything they can to take advantage and to get out of doing the work. After all, if you the manager don’t value production, why should they?

Somewhere in the middle, when you are walking that very fine line between relationships and production goals, you are practicing empowered leadership and that’s where you will get the most from your employees.