“NO” the Greatest Verbal Asset to Leadership

Reuben Egolf Teaching Principled Centered Leadership in the Philippines
Reuben Egolf Teaching Principled Centered Leadership in the Philippines

The most powerful word in any language is “NO.” This is the greatest verbal asset to leadership which reveals, asserts, and exposes one’s principles. Many leaders could have been spared heartache, humiliation, and a tainted legacy if they would have used it.

Think about the difference in history if the following leaders would have said “NO.”

What if

  1. President Clinton would have said “no” to Monica Lewinsky?
  2. President Nixon would have said “no” to spying on a political party’s headquarters?
  3. The entire staff of Adolph Hitler would have said “no” to his plan of extinguishing an entire race of people?
  4. Brutus would have said “no” to the other senator’s conspiracy of assassinating Julius Caesar?

Obviously, history would have been rewritten. No is born out of convictions that are produced by one’s own principles and values. If I am weak in principle, I will refrain from saying no because I fear the repercussions more than I value my principles. When speaking to staff and advisers, watch how a person handles the word “no” and it will speak volumes about their maturity and whether you can trust them. Humility is the greatest asset of leadership regardless of what position they hold. It can receive the word “no” as well as give it. A humble person is a team player. They accept the “no” and react without vengeance or attempt to assert one’s own plan in defiance. If they are humble, they will acknowledge it by accepting it from a higher office of authority and submit themselves to it.

As a leader, don’t be intimidated to use the word “NO.” Fear imprisons leadership from progress.
Here are five questions to know if you are intimidated.

  1. Is it hard and next to impossible for you to say “no”?
  2. Are you afraid of and intimidated by confrontation?
  3. Do you compromise simply to avoid conflict.
  4. Are your decisions based on pleasing others?
  5. Do others control your life and decision making?

Douglas MacArthur said A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

How true! Sometimes “no” will seemingly put you on an island temporarily. However, your unwavering principles and integrity will construct a bridge for people to come aboard with you.

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