Are You Surrounding Yourself by 'YES' People?

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As Elizabeth and I continue to experience the amazing truths the Brilliant Leader Program brings to us through our students and graduates, I came across an article written by Jane Smith for Gallup, that spoke about being surrounded by “yes” people and how some leaders don’t even realize it’s happening.

It got me thinking about how different leaders react to hearing the truth, even when they ask their employees for honest feedback.

As part of the Brilliant Leader Program, we work with our students to help them learn what drives them and how they can make simple adjustments to react properly to good or bad feedback. We share our positive and not so positive memories of dealing with difficult situations and bosses who just didn’t get it. Being called into one of those meetings where everyone knew better than to speak first and then when someone did, they knew they were going to be in trouble for opening their mouth. 

Frankly, it was sad. It was sad for the employees who had to endure it and feel devalued. It was sad for the company, because they lost out on so many great ideas. And it was very, very sad for the boss. He walked away patting himself on the back for a job well done, totally oblivious to all the pain he caused and how much expertise he lost out on.  

If you can’t remember the last time someone who works for you disagreed with your opinion or offered an alternate solution that was outside the norm, you just may be in trouble.  

Here are three things that you can do right now to make certain the feedback you hear is the stuff that will make you a better leader and make your company stronger.

  • Listen with an open mind (and heart) to any and all opinions.  People need to know that their opinions count and that their feelings will be treated with respect. While you may not always see eye to eye with your subordinates, there’s always a way to gently disagree and move the conversation forward. 

  • Give yourself permission to not always have the answers.  This can be a tough one for those whose DNA is wired to always be the solution provider. Not having all the answers shows your team that you value their knowledge and are willing to listen to their expertise.

  • Let your subordinates do the job they were hired for.  Although this might sound like a no-brainer, very often we see managers who micromanage their employees to the point of doing the job for them. People need to know they are trusted and that even if they make a mistake, you’ll be there to help them get back on track.

So, don’t be afraid to ask for the truth and to hear it in all it’s forms. Take the time to sit down and ask hard questions.  Find out how you can help them shoulder their responsibilities and recognize their pain points so you can better lead. Give your subordinates the trust and respect they crave and deserve. Believe me, by your willingness to make little adjustments to how you deal with feedback and just showing some plain old courtesy, you will turn even the most skeptical “yes” person into a valuable contributor on your team in no time.

Want to learn more about how you can make small adjustments to help you react more positively to honest feedback? Visit our Brilliant Program at and take our FREE Color Code Assessment. You just might be amazed by what you’ll discover.