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045 The art of saying no

In this episode I talk about the art of saying 'no'. I explore the idea that saying 'no' is a critical skill that helps you focus on activities that make a difference in driving your school strategy.

I begin by outlining how you prioritise activities that support your strategy and how you form a criteria for assessing what you say 'yes' and what you say 'no' to. To this end, I outline a three-step process in identifying the narrative that can be used to turn down activities that don't help drive the strategy you have in place.

Step one is the process of recommunicating to people what the details of the strategy you have in place is and what the intended focus of the strategy should be. The aim of this step is both to remind people of the strategy, but also to reinforce the importance of it.

Step two is the process of praising the proposed activity or idea that has been presented, but then communicating how the new activity or idea doesn't fit the strategy. This is extremely important - without this explanation people will remain in the dark about your decion-making criteria.

The final step in creating a narrative is to continue to praise the fact that new ideas are being presented, but to clearly and kindly say no this this idea. Then remind people that you are looking for innovation in areas which do fit the strategy.

The objective of following these steps is to allow you to say no to ideas whilst keeping your team on board and encouraging them to continue to form ideas that might fit with the strategy you have in place.

Episode highlights

  • Introducing the art of saying 'no' (02:44)

  • Prioritising activities (04:20)

  • Forming a narrative that allows you to say 'no' (04:45)

References and resources

Download your copy of the free eBook ‘The Strategic Independent School Leader’ at

Catch up on previous episodes at


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