There’s a long tradition of having ‘yes-men’ around to do your bidding.  Had two conversations this week from which I’ve learned that (a) ‘yes-men’ are still alive and well and working in huge, successful (at the moment) companies, and (b) CEOs are realizing that, in the long run, they stifle innovation.

Conversation 1 was saddening, though enlightening.  A clearly, painfully diffuse person reporting to a CEO with a definite tendency to be rigid was praised as ‘the best person I ever hired.’  Well, okay, rigid people like diffuse people – they are the original ‘yes-men.’  But you’d think he’d want to use hard data.  Actually, even if he did, I’d be suspicious.  I bet he does enough work to cover Mr. Yes’s backside.  Well, you can’t help everyone.

Conversation 2 was uplifting and enlightening.  A head of state (not in the US) was speaking to the CEO of a vendor and bemoaning his inability to find the right people for key positions.  He wanted integrity, productivity, and obedience.  I laughed with delight as the CEO related this.  These are the words of a Founder/Vision Mover.  This head of state is totally coherent and wants obedience yes – to his Vision, not his whims!  That’s just the basic respect due him.  But they hire by resume so they are probably attracting diffuse ‘yes-men’ who’ve never produced on their own.  Here’s one that can be helped.

Conclusion: ‘Yes-men’ may flatter your ego, but they will obscure your Vision.  Better a nice loud “no” every so often rather than being blind to the promises of the future!

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