Just Say No: Why Good Leaders Don’t Do It All

By Connie Johnson, Ed.D., Provost and Chief Academic Officer

CTU Academic Leadership - Leaders Say NoOne vivid memory I have of my lovely mother is when she told me I should be well-rounded. As a result, I was generally involved in a myriad of activities which often included academics, sports, arts, friends, family and a spiritual pursuit. When work was added into the mix, it was indeed difficult to keep up a well-rounded approach.

But I tried.

As time progressed, the challenge of engaging in all activities, in addition to work and family, was virtually impossible. This is not an uncommon problem, I learned, for many women in leadership positions. We do believe (and perhaps our mothers said) that we could do it all. Kristi Hedges indicates in “ForbesWoman” that the issue is time management for the time-challenged or for women who have too much to do. Can trying to do everything create a time-management challenge for leaders?


The solution then, is saying no. In her article, Ms. Hodges provides several useful tips that I will expand upon:

Be ruthless with your time. Engage in work or activities that are of true value to your goals, mission or sense of well-being.

Take breaks. Saying no sometimes means that you take time to re-energize and invigorate.

Let go of perfection. You do not have to manage every detail of every meeting and conversation. Letting go of perfection often means letting go of absolute control.

Following these tips means that you, as a leader, do miss out on some details. However, providing others with the opportunity to take care of those details can often result in the growth and development of people who are on the leadership path. Saying no may take some practice, but it is well worth the effort. Not only does this provide you, as a leader, more time and energy to focus upon what you need to; clear boundaries also provide others room to grow as well.

CTU Faculty - Connie JohnsonConnie Johnson, Ed.D., is Chief Academic Officer/Provost at CTU working with both online and ground degree programs. She leads CTU Academics and Student Affairs and brings more than 20 years of experience in academics to the university. Connect with Dr. Johnson on Twitter @DrConnieJohnson.

Image Credit: Flickr/GoDakshin

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