One of the most common mistakes that leaders make within a business is surrounding themselves with “yes men,” people who agree with everything they say simply because they’re in a position of authority. What you really need to be focused on as a leader is surrounding yourself with people who aren’t afraid to tell you what they think. While you might not always like what they have to say, their advice could be exactly what you need to hear.
It’s so easy to close ourselves off to this kind of advice. For many of us, we’ve worked to get to where we are in our careers from a very young age, and during that time we’ve probably relied on ourselves and our own hard work to find success.
While it can be kind of a shock to the system to get some harsh criticism of our work, having those experiences can make us better.
When I first started out as a full time worker, I was 17 years old and was still finishing high school without my parents or immediate family. Yet my first boss didn’t treat me any differently than any other employee. When I made mistakes, he let me know. He didn’t shy away from criticism. As a result, I learned to be much more open to accepting the input of others and to take business advice on hand.
I remember my first major mentor, Ben Ruby – I was 26 and in charge of managing over 80 employees and generating revenue of a $1 million per month. Ben was an ancient executive with an Ivy League pedigree. Both of us planted in lovely Norman Oklahoma! Ben’s talent was to get you to open up to sharing ideas for change. Only to crucify you in the court of employee opinion. A decade later I learned that was not the style of most leaders.
We all need people around us in our business who aren’t afraid to give us the unbiased facts about our business. People who are willing to go against the popular opinion if it means making changes for the good of the company. The more “yes men” you surround yourself with, the less your business will be able to innovate the way it needs to in order to be a true success. You should come to truly value the opinions and advice of your colleagues and employees as the owner of a business. Make sure your company practices open and real communication, yes in the right forum, without penalty. You do not want your team always siding with popular opinion or belief.
You want a company culture where life is great and the team operates the company with pride and wonder. Where leaders are guides for the company’s purpose. Where in-line managers reinforce the core values and teach, train, mentor, lead and evaluate the same.
Discover your company’s culture with Culture Sync’s Culture Meter. “Most leaders agree that culture is the critical factor in performance, but can’t define it, measure it, or change it. As a result, the few organizations that get culture right seem magical, and people who try to replicate their success usually end up frustrated and cynical. Tribal Leadership shows two simple steps—diagnosis and then the best treatment that leaders take to build cultures that can do things most people think is impossible: out-innovating, outperforming, creating an immunity to scandals, and having mountains of fun in the process.” ~ Dave Logan
In the end, it’s your company. You have the right to lead it as you see fit. But the people you surround yourself with can help you to reach the heights you’ve dreamed of in your business, so long as you choose the ones that have their sights on reaching those goals rather than appeasing you. Yes, the top of the org chart needs to have final say. Yes, when a decision is made those dissenting views need to fall in line for the better good of the whole. Great culture creates great businesses!
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