Career Truth #4: Don’t Be a Yes Man

In our book, Don’t Dread Monday, we highlight ten career myths and their corresponding truths. This is the fourth of ten blog posts in which we highlight these myths and truths. Aligning to these truths sets the foundation of a sustained career of engagement and success. I am sure you will find value in #4.

Myth #4: I will get ahead by doing what key managers in my organization want, otherwise known as the “yes man syndrome.”

We’ve all met them: the people who always agree with what the leader thinks. The coworkers who always echo what the boss says. But agreeableness isn’t just an outward expression of assent, it’s also an unwillingness to speak up with a contradictory belief, especially with a superior.

I’m certain all of us have acquiesced at some point or another, especially in a work environment. Some organizations even encourage a “yes man” mentality, though hopefully, this is the extreme and not the norm.

There’s a myth that always agreeing with your supervisors will yield more benefits and faster promotions. It often provides a safe career path to cautiously walk on, but it leaves you no room to align yourself with your passions and create what matters most to you. Declaring and pushing your agenda may stir up some discomfort, but eventually, your environment will come together to help you succeed.

One extreme example of this is Jeffrey Wigand. Those of us old enough can vividly remember his interview on 60 Minutes in 1996, blowing the whistle on tobacco companies for knowingly putting harmful and addictive substances in their cigarettes. This revelation changed the tobacco industry overnight.

Before Wigand’s fateful interview, he worked as vice president of research and development at Brown & Williamson, hoping to manufacture a safer cigarette. He quickly realized that the company executives really wanted him to be a symbolic figurehead for health, and to state that cigarettes weren’t harmful. In short, they wanted him to be a yes man. Wigand butted heads with the company at every turn, disillusioned, until he was finally fired. As history now knows, he stood up to Big Tobacco at high personal cost (death threats, loss of his livelihood), but he eventually became the real winner. Because he stuck to his convictions, his passions, he was able to be an agent for change, and still acts as an expert witness and consultant to this day.

If there’s anything we can learn from this story, it’s this: It’s not always easy to take control of your life, passions, and convictions, but it is always worth it. Which brings us to our fourth career truth:

Truth #4: Being a “yes man” will limit and frustrate you in your career.

It can be difficult to find your life’s work. We’re here to help. Schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with one of our experienced career coaches today. They can walk you through your career problems, from a simple resume and LinkedIn consultation to a career 180. You can contact us or call us at (800) 680-7768.