As an executive coach I have recently experienced the privilege of co-facilitating a group coaching session on self-leadership. Self-leadership essentially means getting our own house in order. More technically, self-leadership means:a process of self-influence to achieve an optimum state of motivation and self-direction needed to perform what one sees as necessary and unavoidable. The self-leadership process includes mental, cognitive and behavioural strategies that give strength, purpose, meaning and direction to the effort toward effectiveness in performing tasks one needs to perform. It covers: self-goal setting; self-observation; visualising successful performance; evaluating beliefs and assumptions; self talk; and self-reward, measured through the Revised Self-Leadership Questionnaire, by Houghton and Neck, 2002.
As you can see, the definition covers a lot, and essentially speaks to a well-rounded, interdependent and contributing person.
A common theme from participants of the group coaching session was the importance of being seen to be capable, coupled with the pressure of feeling that they are not able to say ‘no’ to more work activities. This is within a ‘jittery’ climate of organisational restructures …like those of Telecom and NZ Post. The message we’re sending ourselves is ‘we’re keen to keep our job but if we say ‘no’ then we may lose our job’. However, this ‘if…then’ link can be overplayed. Done responsibly, saying ‘no’ to more work is integral to our job effectiveness.
The importance of saying ‘no’ is not new and is covered well in most assertiveness skills courses. What is new [to some of us] is doing something about it, without overreacting to requests to do more. We may leave it far too long before we say something and when we do, it may come across as overly emotional, explosive or harshly cyncial. And we may lash out at the least deserving, either at work or at home, leaving them to lick their wounds. So the trick is, to early on register the feeling in ourselves, then calmly remove ourselves and ‘think on’ to the following conditions for success.
Saying ‘no’ is easier when the following conditions for success are in place:
There is no one thing that will get us responsibly saying ‘no’, but a clear head, underpinned by a sense of purpose and progress makes it far easier to do so in a jittery employment environment.