Leadership Tip #5: Say “No”

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really

successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet




Warren Buffet is considered the most successful investor in the world. He’s worth US $73.7 billion, dwarfing the wealth of Donald Trump, who’s allegedly worth a few billion only. His quote on success is equally valid for leaders in business. If you want to be successful, you need to learn to say “no”.


There are many reasons why we agree to tasks and projects we should not be doing. One reason is not wanting to let people down. Another one is that we don’t want to miss out on interesting opportunities.


Reflect: Why do you agree to do projects that you and your team should not be doing?

One of the examples I give in my book is:

“Marketing is not my area of expertise. However, I can connect you to Michelle, who has a team of very capable marketing people. She might have the right person for you. Would you like me to do that?”


The above “no” doesn’t use these two letters, which can be very confrontational – and we’ll look at that in more detail next time. The point is to reject in a way that makes people still happy they came to see you. The above rejection is polite, gives a short but clear reason why you’re not doing the task, and provides an alternative solution.


Chances are that whoever asked you for the favour walks away and is still very happy for the advice you gave.


Would you like more suggestions of how to reject politely? Comment on the article here and let’s crowdsource some amazing answers!

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