Tuesday, April 7, 2009

It May Be Easy, But Being A "Yes Man" Isn't The Solution

Most people think that there are two extremes and one middle position when it comes to communicating in the workspace. These include the guys that are always on the side of the boss (kissing up to get promoted), on the opposite extreme always arguing with the boss (and constantly fearful for their job), or right in the middle saying nothing at all.

The first is more affectionately known as the "Yes-Man". We all know this guy - he agrees with everything the boss says - no matter how stupid it is and no matter wrong it is for the organization. He is affirming to the end. The funny thing is that the "Yes-Man" will tell you he is looking out for the company, always trying to do the right thing, but what he is really concerned about is his own butt.

The second is the "Antagonist". In the business world, this is the guy who speaks his mind - NO MATTER WHAT! He is uncouth, and will say anything at any time - regardless of the consequence. He will tell you that he is speaking his mind because that is who he is - and he is only looking out for the best interest of the organization. Unfortunately, again, his motivations also tend to be more self-centered, because he's not really looking at the best interest of the organization, he's just covering his butt, for when he knows it's going to fail.

The third is the silent majority in every organization. They are quite honestly, the worst of the three, because they often have great insights on the organization, but are so afraid of being labeled a "Yes Man" or an "Antagonist" that they just sit silently. Like the other two - they justify their silence in the name of helping the organization - the truth is they are committed only to themselves - not their organization

However, there is a fourth option - one that is not a "Yes-Man", an "Antagonist", or the "Silent Type". Who is this guy? He's a Leader. He's the one who listens to the arguments of others and still speaks his mind completely -regardless of his position in the organizational structure. He is confident and forthright. But this guy does it differently than the "Antagonist", because he speaks from the perspective of understanding others points of view and does it so as to always get invited back for future discussions. He is respectful, but forthright and open.

And unlike the other three examples where their influence in the company ends at the edge of the desk, the "Leader" actually has leverage with every level of the organization - his subordinates love him, his peers seek him out, and his superiors want him at every meeting that he has time to be at. He influences teams and individuals at all levels, not because his ideas are better than any others, but because he manages to speak his mind in such a way that people actually seek him out for his opinion - even when they know he most likely will disagree with them.

So, who are you? Are you . . .




or are you a LEADER?


  1. This post, and specifically about the "silent majority" reminds me of what Elie Wiesel said about apathy and indifference, that it is the worst response to human pain and suffering. It literally means, "no difference" and reduces other people to mere abstractions. You certainly hit the nail on the head by saying that this group is the worst, because the other two (Yes-Man & Antagonist) can at least be fought against; but you cannot fight against someone who refuses to engage. That is why our world, our Nation, and certainly our businesses are in desperate need of leaders.