It’s short. If offered properly, it sends a clear message. How, to whom, and when you use it are three essential factors in either its success or its failure. It should only be used after rational, reasonable, and will-intended thought. An essential part of that thought process must include its potential for both intended and unintended consequences.
If used too often, it can diminish or even destroy trust and confidence. Over use can also leave the user looking weak, ineffectual, unimaginative, under informed, obstinate, inflexible, and self-righteously arrogant. If used in haste or in anger, it often creates a discomfort that has to be either tolerated or readdressed. If that uneasiness is to be remedied, the process of doing so can be difficult, awkward, and cumbersome, if it works at all.
It can stop both good and evil deeds in their tracks. It can damage or end relationships, or it can build and strengthen them in an instant. It’s extremely simple to use. It can be written, spoken, or offered with a facial expression, as well as with a shake of the head. And ironically, its opposite is just about as short, and when used with the same thought, care, and attention, they are proportionately powerful and equally consequential.
When you use this leadership tool, know why you’re using it, and be prepared to share what motivated you to do so. If not, you may accurately be seen as capricious and arbitrary. Be open to the possibility of changing your mind, should circumstances make such a change prudent and advisable.
This powerful tool is the word no!
The words no and yes, when judiciously and thoughtfully used, are influential leadership tools that have the power to enhance understanding and augmenting collaboration, while providing definitive guidance and direction.