Signs that you are looking to be surrounded by “Yes Men.”

Yes Man

When founding a new business you are in the unique position where every decision is indeed your own. Now that you beat the odds and are in that special 10% of businesses that don’t fail shortly out of the gate you will be faced with one of the most difficult prospects in leadership — giving up total control.

To be successful beyond a one man band you need to hire a great team and realize that, no matter what culture alignment you may have created at your baby’s birth, people are different. Keep alignment with top level company goals and values and leave the solutions of future problems to the hands of the team you hired. As former Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

Two clear signs you are looking to join the ranks of the other 90% are:


Asking your team an opinion on something you have already decided on and are not willing to change. In other words — giving people a false choice. Like the parent asking a child, “Would you rather hold my hand, or wander out on your own into traffic and get yourself killed?” You are not actually, hopefully, giving them option ‘B’. Worse yet, as illustrated, when you go down this road there is a tendency to stack the option deck so the only ‘valid’ choice is to choose what you have already decided is best by default. It doesn’t work for raising kids and it will not work for raising a team to take your business beyond where it was possible for you to do alone.


Homer Simpson: Aw, you can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forfty percent of all people know that.

If you are really dug in and the first option doesn’t work another sure fire backup plan is to find people on your side. You will find them. That’s the beauty of this backup plan. The problem, however, is now you have started down a road of division amongst the ranks. Subconsciously you will be biased in the future to lean more on your supporters for feedback when it is most likely someone from the rest that will be giving you the best advice.

The good news is that these signs don’t need to be followed. Pay attention. Be selfaware. If you see yourself going down these paths and know it is not the way to achieve greatness — then do something about it! Unless you actually are Elon Musk then being the smartest person in the room is the first sign your team needs an upgrade. You cannot realize achievement beyond your own limits without others doing things better than you could ever dream of.

(Originally posted on Medium)