Friday, November 23, 2012

Yes Men Will Kill Your Organization

I love it when people agree with me.  After all, I’m always right?  Right?  Everyone likes their ideas being affirmed but having someone always agree with you is really counterintuitive.  I know I don’t always agree with those who lead me so what makes me think those under me are any different.  I’m not talking about insubordination or rebellion here.  Should people in the same team always agree with each other?  Do you always have to agree with your boss?  I would suggest the best team is comprised of people who have varying opinions.  Not in overall vision or mission (not that those can’t vary some) but mostly in strategy and implementation.  Actually if your team is made up of only “yes men” (you know those who say yes to your face) your team is really just a bunch of minions carrying out mindless objectives.  They are secretly dying on the inside and when a better opportunity comes along (or the hope of being on an actual team), they, well, in the words of Duck Dynasty, “They gone.” 

“Yes men” may look good at first because they do what they are told and don’t buck the system.  But over time they will buck the system because they feel unappreciated and aren’t being used to their full potential.  When you allow them to become “yes men” you are creating people who are only concerned with themselves.  They just want promotion, perks, and to please the boss.  You can stop the “yes men” at your organization by creating an environment that allows your team to lead with you.
Every good leader becomes a great leader through a team of people whose giftings, abilities, and ideas complement them.  Just because someone doesn’t agree with you doesn’t mean they aren’t loyal to your team and vision.  Maybe their ideas are better?  I’ve found this to be more often true than not.  Someone telling you no may not mean they hate your ideas but that they actually want to make them better.  Hearing no from your team actually is a good thing.  It means they are thinking and being creative.  I’m not sure I’d trust someone who always told me yes.  Allowing “no’s” is also a reality check that you don’t know it all and actually function better in team.  Key point here – this goes both ways.  Just because your ideas are on the table doesn’t mean you’ll always get to do it your way.  In the end, the boss must make the final decision to benefit the whole team and organization.  If someone always has to have it their way and get upset when challenged, its best they go their separate way before they separate your organization.

People on my team who tell me no actually do me a favor.  I don’t need “yes men” and “no men”.  I need truth men.  Truth men let me know when I’m wrong and right.  The worst judge of me is me.  I need others looking out for my best interest by telling me my great ideas may not actually be that great.  The statement, “your problem used to be someone’s great idea” applies to me also.  Also, when I allow my team to tell me no it makes their “yes” so much sweeter.  Why?  I know they are telling me the truth.  This is good for me because sometimes I’m real hard on myself – my worst critic.  I tend to think less of my ideas than anyone else.  Someone I trust who validates my ideas encourages me to plunge forward.  Key point here – someone who always tells me no is not part of the team just like someone who always tells me yes.  Even when they get their “no” in they don’t help grow the team.  They just want to be right but don’t want to help build the team or organization. 
Telling me no doesn’t initially mean outright rebellion (although someone who consistently does this could be guilty of rebellion).  I have to keep in mind that they can hear from the Lord and that He gave them talent, ability, and wisdom as well.  I need pushback on my ideas because it slows me down to ensure I’m not wasting my time, talent, and treasure.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to waste my time on things that will not work if I can help it.  Asking me “Why?” can be a good thing.  Everything needs defined purpose not just, “Because I said so.”  Pushback keeps me from thinking I am greater than I really am and makes me validate what I do.  Bosses who only like “yes men” are typically insecure and like to hear “yes” more than the truth.

Not having “yes men” also brings unity to your team.  While that may sound ironic, it is actually healthy.  Unity is a good thing in any team.  Uniformity will kill your team.  Unity means we agree in the majors even if the minors don’t always come together.  There is a difference between arguing and discussing.  There is more than one way to get somewhere.  What is the purpose in the trip?  Is it a scenic route?  Are you in a hurry?  Back roads are as good as main highways as long as you get there and accomplish your main goals. 

Allowing your team to say no validates them.  They need to dream with you, not just fulfill your dream.  Yes, it comes down to the leader making the call but your team needs to express their ideas, even if they aren’t used.  Throw everything on the table, sort out the good and bad, and be productive.  When people on your team cannot express their ideas they get frustrated.  When they get frustrated, they actually start working against you even if they don’t realize it.  They start venting to each other and never to you.  They stop dreaming and start maintaining.  When your team begins to die, your vision is as good as dead.  “Yes men” aren’t leaders, they are followers.  If you want more leaders, let your people lead.  You want people on your team who make your organization better, not those who just make you look better. 

Sure, your team needs direction, job descriptions, and leadership.  Yes, you’ll have to be the one who ultimately makes the decisions.  Your team needs you to say, “Here is what I want and don’t want.”  I’m not talking about voting on everything (leadership by consensus).  You’ll never get anything done that way.  Allowing your team to lead with you instead of barking orders at them will grow your organization faster than you ever could alone.  When you don’t let them function you actually are doing it alone.  Maybe this is why your turnover is so high?  I’m learning this over time.  Encourage healthy debate and alternative solutions.  Allow them to constructively critique your ideas and come up with their own.  You’ll find this approach will not only grow your organization but also grow their hearts toward your organization and you as the main leader because they are now co-owners not hirelings.  Allowing them to lead with you actually confirms and builds your leadership.  They will follow you anywhere when you allow them to lead with you.

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