01 Comment

What’s the value of a “yes man” or “yes woman” on your team? Think about it.

We see it in politics and government – half-baked ideas become public policy because advisors and bureaucrats don’t (or won’t) stand up to the leader.

We see it in business – forecasts inflated, quality sliding, valuations off the mark, because an omnipotent leader won’t face up to reality.

We see it in non-profits – money wasted, opportunities missed, partnerships passed by, social situations ever more troubling, because the leader believes he or she is the only one who can figure things out.

There are lots of reasons. Some leaders behave like old-fashioned bosses; they expect to be saluted. Some leaders lack confidence and so it becomes about how they appear. Some leaders never learned how to listen and thus don’t see the value. Others just don’t know what they are doing and want to hide that fact.

I can’t think of anyone who led a lasting successful organization surrounded by a cadre of “yes people.”

A friend of mine leads his direct reports: “If you agree with everything I say, I don’t need you.”

Looking outward – leaders need people who challenge them.

Looking inward – leaders need to be relentlessly curious. Curious about their own approaches. Curious about their organization’s people, processes, effectiveness and impact. And they need to hear….not just listen to….the input they receive.

What’s the value of a “yes man” or “yes woman” on your team?

Zero.

  1. Chuck Rose /

    There are very few manager/leaders out there who don’t espouse this view. The difficulty, as with most wisdom, is in the execution. Most leaders call for their associates to challenge them and then when they do, ignore what they say, or worse, punish them in subtle ways for not “supporting the vision” or “being a team player”.
    The exceptional leaders have changed their mind set so that they are rewarding the team members who call them on our “half-baked ideas”. I love what Bill Marvin, The Restaurant Doctor, says – “What have you learned from your staff today?”