The Only 4 Answers Your Boss Wants To Hear

On the U.S. Army Academy in West Level, New York, Bob realized rapidly there have been solely 4 acceptable responses when addressed by a superior officer: “Sure, sir”; “No, sir”; “I don’t perceive, sir”; and “No excuse, sir.”

As Bob explains it, “Think about I’ve shined my footwear, my trousers are pressed, and I am going out to formation. Whereas in line, one in all my classmates rushes previous and steps in a puddle, splashing mud throughout my footwear and trousers. Then an upperclassman walks by and notices. ‘McDonald! Why are you in formation with mud throughout your footwear and trousers?’


“As a West Level cadet, I am going via all 4 attainable solutions in my head. ‘Sure, sir’ would simply restate the apparent, in order that doesn’t appear acceptable. And it could in all probability get me yelled at much more. I couldn’t say ‘No, sir’ as a result of it was clearly true. I’d get thrown out of the academy for mendacity. ‘I don’t perceive, sir’ would simply make me look silly. The one reply I had left was the fourth one, and it’s probably the most highly effective one in all all—‘No excuse, sir.’”

“Despite the fact that one thing occurred to me that was exterior my management, I wasn’t speculated to make any excuses. I used to be speculated to say, ‘No excuse, sir. It received’t occur once more.’ That’s how a West Level cadet takes accountability, which is a vital a part of character.”

The Energy Of The 4 Solutions

Bob was reminded of the ability of that lesson 13 years later, when he and his spouse, Diane, have been discussing what to do about their six-year-old, Jenny.

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After repeatedly telling Jenny to scrub up her room, they discovered it hadn’t been performed. It was a large number. Being considerate mother and father, they consulted one of many many parenting books on their cabinets for recommendation on how one can reprimand a toddler for an infraction like this.

They mentioned their choices and even scripted out the dialog they might have with Jenny. With script in hand, they went and located Jenny in her room. However earlier than they may even get to the second sentence of the ready speech, Jenny appeared up at them and, with the seriousness of a West Level cadet, stated, “No excuse, Dad. It received’t occur once more.”

Bob and Diane have been utterly dumbstruck. They stood there in awkward silence, making an attempt to determine what to say subsequent.

Their script was utterly ineffective now. With seven easy phrases, Jenny had acknowledged the state of her room, taken accountability for it, and promised to not let it occur once more.

Every little thing their prolonged script was supposed to assist them accomplish was already performed. There was nothing left to say. They kissed their little lady on the cheek and left her to play in her room.

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Why Your Boss Solely Desires To Hear These 4 Solutions

As the pinnacle of huge organizations, it was his job to get everybody on the identical web page and dedicated to the identical objectives. Really committing to a purpose signifies that if it isn’t met, you’re taking accountability for it and promise to get it performed.

The “No excuse, sir” response is a transparent indication of dedication and accountability. It really works as properly within the enterprise world because it does in a army academy or in parenting a six-year-old.

And it really works for the boss simply as a lot because it does for the subordinate. When the boss hears “No excuse, sir”—nevertheless it’s articulated—she may be sure her subordinate is taking accountability and continues to be dedicated to the purpose.

For the direct report, the disarming “No excuse” response spares him a prolonged reprimand from the boss, similar to it spared Jenny.

Attempt sharing this story in your group. You’ll be stunned on the degree of dedication you’ll generate.


Paul SmithPaul Smith is the bestselling creator of Lead with a Story: A Information to Crafting Enterprise Narratives that Captivate, Persuade, and Encourage which paperwork over 100 inspiring classes together with this one that will help you be a greater chief via storytelling. You’ll find Paul at and observe him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.  His latest e book, Parenting with a Story, will assist you to (and your youngsters) construct the form of character anybody can be pleased with.

Photograph by baja faith

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