Honestly, Just Say No

Sometimes the most powerful way to engage in Intelligent Disobedience is to say no, especially when a task “opportunity” enters your office.

You are busy, juggling priorities and multiple initiatives, and you have an ambitious manager. At the same time we want to approach our managers, the business, and ourselves with integrity. Does it reflect high integrity when a task opportunity comes your way and you don’t know how you will accomplish it and you neglect to say something like…I can’t do that?

Intelligent Disobedience doesn’t mean we should be needlessly difficult. It does mean we should be true to ourselves and those around us. One of the most effective ways to do that and relieve undue stress, is to stop trying to juggle too much. If a work opportunity comes your way, and you don’t know how you will accomplish it, say no OR ask which of your major projects (or significant to-do items) you can ”suspend” in order to accomplish this new task. You owe that brand of truth to your boss, your peers, your own sanity and your family!

The Harvard Business Review published an excellent article with this same theme – in fact it is in the top two best selling reprints in the history of the Harvard Business Review magazine. You can access the article via this link: http://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey/ar/1


A Powerful Prioritization Question

Recently, a colleague of mine turned around a situation with her manager by posing a VERY powerful question. She had been struggling with an ever expanding workload due to a senior manager with ambitions that outreached his ability to prioritize. What was this impactful question she posed to her senior leader?

“To be sure I’m not going to conflict with your actions, what are YOU doing to help bring this objective to fruition?”

What a question! It was posed with a focus on her own work effort so it was not directly threatening, yet it brought home the point that he was not treating this latest “great idea” by directing any of his own time towards it. The resulting discussion about the workload that my colleague was trying to manage, along with the priority of items in that workload was significant, setting a direction for her area of the business and her personal agenda.

This also established a tone for future discussions about new initiatives. All it took was one question; one well crafted question, driven by a desire to share information which was delivered with courage, to make a significant difference in the work environment for herself and her organization.