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The most important 'no' in your career

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Ted Blackwater ▼ | June 13, 2016
Knowing when to say "no" is as important as knowing when to say "yes" and in some situations "no" will lead you to new heights. If you have courage to say that small but powerful word.
Strategic decisions
Strategic decisions   When you decide to go forward, go forward
In your daily work, there are numerous situations when you must say "no" as your executive decision, but we will here talk about strategic decisions, the ones that lead your company toward new and unexplored markets and, hopefully, new and interesting profit.

Every leader is a visionary, being able to see what others don't and exactly that capability brought them to their top position. But, from time to time, those visions, let's call them that way, may be too much for everybody else, up to the point when the whole organization is against their CEO.

Let's say that you want to make a 90-degree turn and lead your company toward new market where you have never been. That includes new thinking, redefining the company structure and culture, and in fact that's building a new company on the firm foundation of your existing one.

Such a radical thinking may make many people unhappy. Your employees are not happy because they don't know what's ahead and will you, the company, succeed. That's normal. Your board is not happy because the company is doing just fine, stakeholders are happy and everything looks OK.

Your CFO is not happy at all because she'll have to find a way to finance your ideas and if you are entering a new field that can be very expensive.

Add to that your marketing department awaken from sleep and forced to change their thinking. And don't forget - yes, that's important too - your partner in life who say you're totally crazy trying to disrupt the job that's nice and why don't you just come home at 5pm like "all normal people".

So, you are against everybody but your guts tell you should do it. Now, what is your answer to everybody's question "We think we should stay this way, agree?"

First, stop for a second and ask yourself a short question about yourself: Are you a good leader? If you had more good than bad decisions, and your company is satisfied with you, that's first "yes".

Then, ask yourself do you have any doubts. If you do, don't do it. But if you are absolutely certain that you are trying to do the right thing, that's the second "yes".

And that's all you need. If you have no doubts and your guts - and this is not some imaginary category, that's a mix of your education, skills and experience - are telling you to go forward, go forward. Answer clearly "No. We will not stay this way, we will change everything and make great things."

That "no" against everybody's efforts to hear "yes" may lead you to new heights and open a world of possibilities for your company. This is also a clear answer to unspoken question "Do you doubt yourself?" and if your answer is "no" then you can expect your people to follow you toward new victories.

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