Employers, Just Say ‘No’ to the Yes Men (and Women)
Leadership isn’t about making all the decisions. It’s about empowering talented people to make many of them for you, and utilizing their talents as effectively as possible.
Jason Gots is a New York-based writer, editor, and podcast producer. For Big Think, he writes (and sometimes illustrates) the blog "Overthinking Everything with Jason Gots" and is the creator and host of the "Think Again" podcast. In previous lives, Jason worked at Random House Children's Books, taught reading and writing to middle schoolers and community college students, co-founded a theatre company (Rorschach, in Washington, D.C.), and wrote roughly two dozen picture books for kids learning English in Seoul, South Korea. He is also the proud father of an incredibly talkative and crafty little kid.
What's the Big Idea?
Scalability in business is not just about being able to distribute products and services efficiently to as many people as possible. It’s also about the DNA of the business itself – its ability to remain lithe and innovative no matter how large it grows.
In a marketplace that’s changing faster than ever, the flexibility and creativity of giants like Google – a company where managers are viewed as support for the teams they manage – puts them leagues ahead of competitors with bloated, top-heavy bureaucracies, where every innovation requires a ream of paperwork before seeing the light of day.
The solution is simple, but tricky to implement. It begins with the hiring process. Tom Glocer, former CEO of Thomson Reuters, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a respected advisor to business leaders worldwide, says that smart leaders avoid the temptation to hire automatons – obedient workers with no ideas of their own. Obviously a smooth-running business depends on employee loyalty and competence, but equally important, says Glocer, are “curiosity, willingness to challenge, and honesty to speak truth to power.”
But identifying workers with this rare and subtle balance of traits is easier said than done. Glocer says that the typical job interview – a carefully managed exchange of information – is ill-suited to the purpose. Instead, employers should invest a good deal of time during the hiring process to ensure that they’re getting the best people. “Get a variety of data points. Have several people from the senior ranks of the company meet the candidate. If possible, do it more than one time.” Doing so, he says, saves businesses significant time, money, and problems down the road.
What’s the Significance?
Leadership isn’t about making all the decisions. It’s about empowering talented people to make many of them for you, and utilizing their talents as effectively as possible. Not only are top-managed businesses difficult to scale in a marketplace that demands constant innovation – they’re also vulnerable to turmoil or collapse with the appointment of each new successor.
For driven people accustomed to taking charge, as many leaders are, relinquishing control may be a challenge. It’s tempting instead to hire “yes men” and women who you can count on to carry out your instructions to the letter, and to stay out of the way the rest of the time.
But successful businesses in this economy will be those that take a “leap of faith,” finding the best employees and making them masters of their own domain, and creating systems that allow them to test out their best ideas, and allow the business to absorb and adapt to the ones that will make it stronger.
About “Inside Employers’ Minds”
“Inside Employers’ Minds: Confronting Critical Workforce Challenges” features a dedicated website (www.mercer.com/insideemployersminds) which contains a number of resources focused on addressing each key issue.
Image Credit: Butler/Shutterstock.com
The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think
The ability to communicate effectively can make or break a person's assessment of your intelligence, competence, and authenticity.
Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.
- Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
- The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
- Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
What defines a dark horse? The all-important decision to pursue fulfillment and excellence.
When we first set the Dark Horse Project in motion, fulfillment was the last thing on our minds. We were hoping to uncover specific and possibly idiosyncratic study methods, learning techniques, and rehearsal regimes that dark horses used to attain excellence. Our training made us resistant to ambiguous variables that were difficult to quantify, and personal fulfillment seemed downright foggy. But our training also taught us never to ignore the evidence, no matter how much it violated our expectations.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.