A smart leader will encourage honest dialogue because it fosters mutual respect between them and their employees. A culture of inclusion and listening to differing points of view helps us make a better decision. Therefore, as a leader, one of the most critical things we need to do is put the right team of people in place to support our agenda. One of the common mistakes that a leader can make is to surround himself with “Yes Men”. A Yes Man is someone that won’t challenge your position and in fact they will always tell you what you want to hear and then scurry about to execute your plan.
In one of my previous posts I commented about a team that points at a flying donkey when the leader says a donkey can fly! Worse yet, as leaders become more powerful, they use their authority to create Yes Men by ensuring that it doesn’t pay to speak your mind on issues. These yes men have a lot of success with their strategy of pleasing the leader at all costs, but the good performers are able to identify these people easily. My test is, when a person uses more than two “yes’s” within two minutes they get challenged on their own view, despite agreeing with me!
If you surround yourself with people that don’t challenge your plan, you may miss out on good ideas that would otherwise make your project successful. I’ve met a business leader whose information flow is filtered by yes men below to keep him happy. These organizations will be the ‘also ran’ in a race. We’ve also experienced some corporate collapses due to such leadership, in Sri Lanka. I’ve also experienced some of the yes men turning resentful over time. However, they don’t rebel openly. Be careful of people who are forced to become Yes Men under your watch, are the most dangerous of all because they can subversively undermine you, whilst having your confidence! Then they purposely misdirect your thoughts and take you down a slippery slope.
Insecure leaders feel as though they need yes-men around them to reassure them that they are doing well. Smart leaders know that they don’t have all of the answers themselves and need a diverse range of people around them if they are to take their companies to the next level.
Say No to Yes Men, today.