What’s the best kind of executive to have on your team:
a) A Yes Man?
b) A Doubting Thomas?
The truth is that when you look around the board table of high growth companies, you see a wide variety of leaders, and that’s the way it should be. Having a yes person isn’t a problem unless the whole leadership team doesn’t challenge the owner or CEO. A Doubting Thomas can provide a great alternative perspective, but a room full of them means your company will get stuck in indecision and nothing will happen.
A successful leader will make sure to have a wide variety of voices around the table and be willing to hear those voices in an open and true forum.
So, Should You Hire For Personality?
I’m not suggesting you should say, “We don’t have a Doubting Thomas on our team—let’s hire one,” but I am a big believer in looking at temperaments and skillsets. There are a wide variety of personality assessments available to help you determine the existing range of personalities on your team. Make use of these to see where you have gaps.
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If your team is filled with analyzers, there’s no one looking at the human perspective. If you’ve got a team of people who care about data, you might be missing decision makers. Consider what your business needs to succeed in your industry. The next time you’re hiring, take the gaps into account as one of the ways to help you decide among qualified candidates.
It’s not hard to hire people who agree with you, but if you end up with group of ‘yes people’ on your management team, it’s no accident. It’s almost never a conscious decision but it usually means that the owner or CEO rewards those who agree with him or shuts down those who don’t.
One thing I always say to my clients when I’m coaching them or we’re implementing a strategy: “This is your business”. Nobody has the power to make you do something you don’t want to do, so what harm is there in hearing what folks say who disagree with you or who have a wild idea.”
Listening to opinions that are different from yours may show you a blind spot or give you a fresh spin on an idea or a product.
Avoid the Great Small Business Plateau
Not listening to opinions that are different from yours can lead to negative consequences. The most common reason businesses hit plateaus is because of Founder’s Cap issues. When founders aren’t confident enough to recognize that they aren’t (and shouldn’t be!) the smartest person in the room, they don’t have the confidence to listen to other people or to delegate tasks to people with the best skillset for the job.
I can’t overstate this: if you don’t want to hit the plateau, you need to reinforce the message that it’s okay to hear different perspectives, that different points of view are welcome.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation and wondering why no one on your management team warned you about it, you need to take a look in the mirror. Better yet, avoid that situation by encouraging different points of view among your execs, including people who disagree with you.