Technical Leadership: Learning to say "No"
Many times in my IT career I had what I thought was a great idea. When I took it to my boss to move forward on it and received the response "No", I was disappointed, frustrated, annoyed, and many other emotions. To me, this shiny idea could be the next great thing! To my boss, it was just a distraction.
As leaders, we need to make decisions all the time. This includes immediately making the decision, delegating the decision, holding off on making the decision, or leaving the decision making on a critical issue to someone higher up in the company.
For example, let's say you have 10 production issues that your team needs to fix. Together your team and the business prioritize the issues and agree to work on each one in order until resolved. That week the priority #10 issue occurs, and the business is furious. Your team wants to fix priority #10 now because the business is angry and this will get them off your back. Although you really would love to just get priority #10 fixed and off your plate, your answer is "No". You and the business agreed to a plan, and unless they want to change the plan you are sticking with it. Good for you, but you won't win the award for most popular employee of the week.
By saying "No" your team sticks to the original plan. The business can set up a meeting to review the priorities, and they might say that after further research they want to adjust their priorities (which could include moving #10 to #1). But until the plan is changed you will knock out the issues by order of priority, until at last you get to #10 and get that resolved.
If you don't say "No" then anytime there is an issue it becomes the #1 priority, and you might as well buy everyone a fireman hat as you will just be putting out fires from now on.
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