Steve Jobs famously said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” He was ruthlessly focused as a leader. Many of us have a difficult time saying “no,” but leaders must do so for at least three reasons:
With all the devices and all the technology, we are plagued with multi-tasking. While many insist it does not impact their ability to concentrate or do well in their jobs, research has shown that multitasking impacts our performance more than smoking pot… yeah, dude. Just as multitasking harms an individual’s performance, it impacts the performance of a ministry or organization. Focusing on too many things means you do not do any of them well.
Leaders who are comfortable saying “no” are leaders who understand the value of focus. Leaders who are comfortable saying “no” are crystal clear on their mission and priorities. If leaders do not say “no,” the team loses focus. You cannot do everything well, so to make the biggest impact – focus is essential.
Every “yes” requires investment, which is essentially a “no” to something else. Instead of making a big impact in a few critical areas, leaders who cannot say “no” spread investment thinly over a plethora of opportunities and give none of them the opportunity to flourish. Every time you say “yes” to something, you are – in essence – taking potential resources away from something else. To resource the most important, leaders are wise to starve the unimportant of resources.
Just as there are a finite number of resources, there is a finite amount of energy. If a leader never says “no,” energy is scattered across too many opportunities and impact is greatly reduced. A team that is passionate about everything is, therefore, a team that is ultimately passionate about nothing.
The reason leaders must constantly say “no,” is that a barrage of opportunities will constantly come the way of leaders. There is always something new, shiny, and exciting. If you want lost focus, divided resources, and scattered energy – then say, “yes” to every opportunity that comes your way.