Leadership roles can cause us to be more influenced to say YES, to as many things as possible, instead of saying NO.

Mainly because as a leader we don’t want to disappoint anyone we lead.

If we disappoint someone we lead they can be dissatisfied with us as a leader, and when people are dissatisfied with us as a leader it can feel like we failed.

We fall into the trap of co-dependency when our emotional regulation is dependent on how others feel, so we do whatever it takes to make them feel positive about their interactions with us.

So, when it comes to saying NO, it feels impossible.

So how does a leader know when to say NO and when to say YES?

Saying NO to every request doesn’t help those you lead.

Saying YES to every request will make your life unmanageable.

As I have been on a journey to understand my own co-dependency, a close friend who is a therapist taught me the concept of “having it to give.”

When faced with a request or a need of someone else you can simply ask yourself, “Do I have it to give?”

If you have it to give, say YES.

If you don’t have it to give, say NO.

Let me give you a hypothetical example…

Let’s say you’re serving as the bishop.

It is 9:30 pm on a weekday evening and you are enjoying your nightly streaming episode of your favorite murder mystery series that you always watch with your spouse.

As you both snuggle together on the couch you suddenly get a text notification from a high school senior in your ward.

“Bishop, this is Jill. I’ve decided to go to BYU and the application deadline is tonight at midnight. I need an ecclesiastical endorsement ASAP!!! The stake president has already agreed to meet with me. Can you?”

After reading this text you are flooded with frustration.

Do you jump off the couch and head to the church office?

Do you invite Jill to stop by your home office?

What about the bonding moment with your spouse?

Someone is going to be disappointed.

So, do you have it to give?

In this scenario, I would most likely say, no, I don’t have it to give, and then I would reply to Jill that Winter semester at BYU might be a better idea.

Now this is a last-minute exaggerated scenario (though it is close to a real example someone shared with me).

But it illustrates how one can avoid co-dependency and set a strong boundary when it is needed.

Maybe when you were called as Relief Society president you and your husband decided that one night a week could be dedicated to the calling and the rest would be focused on family time and responsibilities.

During a Relief Society presidency meeting on Sunday, it becomes obvious that to meet the quarterly ministering interview requirement, two nights of interviews are required this coming week.

The Relief Society president asks herself, “Do I have it to give?”

“No, I don’t.”

As planned, one night is scheduled for interviews and the quarterly percentage misses the goal.

Now, many fall into the trap of giving even when they don’t have it to give.

Or we push ourselves to try to give when we don’t have it to give in order to please everyone.

This is the seed of overwhelm.

If you have it to give, give it.

If you don’t, say NO.


Kurt Francom
Executive Director
Leading Saints

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