Being a servant leader doesn’t mean you have to say yes every time someone asks for your assistance. Some people however, being hard-wired to say yes, find it difficult to say no even to the point of feeling guilty when they do.
Scott Ginsberg, the Nametag Guy, wrote in an article entitled How to Keep Backbone Engaged, said, “Sometimes, you have to be willing to hold a courageous conversation to reinforce your boundaries.” He goes on to say if you don’t “otherwise your life is no longer your own.”
Scott’s advice to “reinforce your boundaries” becomes particularly important and particularly difficult when serving a volunteer organization that you are extremely passionate about. Your desire to see that the organization succeeds sometimes makes you commit yourself to tasks you really didn’t want to do. This is especially true when no one else has stepped up to the plate and you don’t want to see the organization fail.
So can you be a servant leader and still say no? It can be done but first you must set some priorities and boundaries.
- Review your responsibilities in life and determine how much time you are willing to give to being a volunteer. If you are involved in several organizations this may require you to pick only one that you will actively give of your time. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to be involved.”
- Determine what activities of the organization interests you the most. If you are going to volunteer your time you want to do something enjoyable.
- Let others know what you are interested in and what you are not. This gets the word out that just because you are a “doer” you are not going to accept any job that needs done.
- Don’t let someone talk you into something by trying to make you feel guilty. If you have set your boundaries and are comfortable with your level of commitment, you have already defined your role so don’t let someone imply it is not enough.
Once you know why you are involved and what interests you the most, make sure you perform as a true servant leader; caring, giving and performing.
So before that next passionate plea for help comes, make sure you have established the framework to SAY NO.