Kanan Jaswal's Blog on Leadership

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Having yes-men is saying “Yes” to your doom

A good number of leaders consider it a sign of their growing importance and influence to be surrounded by people who find virtue in whatever the leaders might say or do. For these people the leader is always right, at least this is what they let the leader know in unmistakable terms, and the leader’s wish they take as a command. This professedly unquestioned loyalty of the yes-men does wonders to the already bloated ego of such leaders and they end up thinking themselves as God’s special gift to mankind. What else does it do? It creates a protective shield around them which no critical assessment of their decisions or activities can pierce. All criticism is shouted down by the yes-men with such vehemence as ensures against its repetition. In a way the yes-men effectively block all opportunities for a leader to learn something new, improve, and grow; and why at all they should, when they are already perfect?

Who loses in the bargain – the leaders and the organisations they happen to lead. The yes-men are immune from all losses, in fact they extract maximum price for their unflinching support, in the form of undeserved favours at the cost of the organisation. But I would not waste my breath in condemning the yes-men; they are too low even for that. What is really condemnable is the so-called leaders’ sense of insecurity which makes them ignore and deny any sort of criticism and seek solace in the adulation of the yes-men.

These leaders take no time in turning nasty and dangerous to their own organisation or nation, if that is unfortunate enough to be led by them. But Hitler won’t have become the Hitler, Germany and the rest of the world suffered immeasurable losses at whose hands, if the people around him had the courage of not saying “Yes” to him every time, and he won’t have had to shoot himself in the end dying a dog’s death. And this applies to all other tin pot dictators who were similarly lionised by their spineless cronies and before they met their well-deserved doom.

It is, therefore, the bounden duty of each right thinking individual in the organisation (or the nation) to expose the yes-men and if need be to confront the leaders on the reasons for their need to have such lowly creatures around them. And if the leaders still refuse to take the wake up call, they ought to be thrown out with the mass of yes-men clinging to them.

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