Leadership: How to avoid creating a team of yes-men

Surrounding your self with agreeable folks might really feel good, however it’s not the proper strategy to lead. Encourage your subordinates to problem you.

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A latest opinion on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan means that President Joe Biden surrounded himself with a cadre of advisors unwilling to problem his view. Key folks in his intelligence and navy management had been reportedly the traditional yes-men, unwilling or unable to problem the beliefs of their boss, and within the worst instances, changing into steadfast cheerleaders fairly than succesful specialists.

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That is actually commonplace, and we have seen many political {and professional} administrations through which high-level leaders fall sufferer to a cadre of yes-men and -women. As leaders advance, they typically develop more and more distant from the folks they’re nominally main and are available to depend on a shrinking circle of shut advisors. This may be efficient if these advisors are prepared and capable of articulate quite a lot of viewpoints and knowledge, particularly when these views and knowledge battle with their boss’ pondering; nonetheless, it could possibly handicap a frontrunner if that chief pushes them towards changing into yes-men.

Whether or not in politics or the skilled area, as if this weren’t difficult sufficient, most key lieutenants owe their positions and authority to the chief that carried them alongside of their rise to energy. Your subordinates possible really feel some mixture of gratitude and obligation to you that will shade their ideas, opinions and the way a lot they share. Suppose you deliberately or unintentionally create an impression that you do not need unhealthy information. In that case, this sense of loyalty will exacerbate self-censorship, finally leading to a staff that solely supplies excellent news and serves as an echo chamber fairly than a useful sounding board.

Figuring out the issue

One of the best leaders I’ve labored with benefit from the mental sparring that comes from their friends and subordinates, the place their beliefs and approaches are thoughtfully and intelligently challenged. They search—and sometimes demand—that their most trusted advisors repeatedly problem their pondering. This isn’t performed in some misguided notion of taking part in satan’s advocate simply to be a contrarian, however with the expectation and assumption that their advisors will possible enhance their pondering and finally assist them produce higher outcomes.

SEE: Juggling distant work with youngsters’ training is a mammoth process. This is how employers may help (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

For those who discover your staff repeatedly agreeing together with your unmitigated brilliance and echoing your concepts again to you with little quite a lot of semantic adjustments, you will have created a tradition of yes-men round you. Maybe much more nuanced is if you’ve unintentionally anointed a single particular person because the staff skeptic, who’s the one particular person anticipated and allowed to problem your pondering among the many sea of yes-men. Whereas having a staff skeptic is best than a set of agreeable head-nodders, it is a lonely and thankless place that depends on a single mind to problem and make clear your pondering, fairly than soliciting the most effective your staff has to supply. Too typically, the staff skeptic turns into staff punching bag and finally turns into yet one more yes-man or -woman.

Fixing the yes-men downside

Probably the most vital roadblock to correcting a staff of yes-men is assuming that the staff is the issue, fairly than the chief. If you end up surrounded by yes-men, it could be tempting to imagine the staff is the issue and substitute them. Nonetheless, a tradition of yes-men often comes from the chief, who knowingly or unintentionally communicated that they solely need excellent news and settlement from subordinates.

It may be tough to self-assess and determine this tendency, and by nature of getting created a tradition of yes-men, will probably be tough to your staff to face up and converse their minds. Use a trusted peer exterior your group, an exterior coach, or try to have one-on-one conversations with a few of your staff members, realizing that that is the least dependable possibility.

SEE: Builders are exhausted. Now, managers are fearful they’ll stop (TechRepublic) 

As soon as you have recognized that you’ve got certainly created a tradition of yes-men, search to deal with the supply of that habits: your management. Whereas easy in idea, it is going to take diligent, long-term effort to permit your staff to supply their finest pondering when it is controversial or goes towards what you might have beforehand articulated. Begin by actively soliciting a number of staff members for his or her ideas, and encourage respectful and centered battle across the thought—not the speaker—earlier than you share your place. Set the instance by stating your strategy after which highlighting options that you just discover with an open thoughts.

It could take a number of months, however you may discover your staff progressively turns into prepared to problem you. Whereas this may be uncomfortable within the second, you may get higher pondering, extra strong ways, and you will finally turn out to be a more practical chief when your staff is prepared to place forth their finest concepts with out consideration of whether or not their chief could be offended, insulted or downright dismissive. It could be comfy being surrounded by a staff of yes-men, however it’s robbing you of being the most effective chief you may be.

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