“Yes” People Will Kill Your Business

By Patrick Thean

high performing teams

dateWed, Feb 14, 2024 @ 10:13 AM

When we overeat from the buffet of opportunities, we experience indigestion. The only way to avoid this is to learn how to say “no” to the wrong projects. These may be good ideas, but they are not the most important for the company at this moment, so they end up slowing you down.

If your leadership team is stacked with “Yes” People, you will struggle to get focused on the right goals. Without pushback, your company will end up with too many priorities! This will undoubtedly lead to unfinished projects, missed deadlines, and frustrated customers and employees. Instead, you need your team to face the brutal facts and bring them to light. 

Leading “Yes" People To Be More Candid 

So, how do we help our “Yes” People be more candid and tell us what they really think so that we can stop overeating from the buffet of opportunities? How do we make it safe for them to tell us “no”? 

First, make sure that your team feels they are allowed to say “no”. Invite discussion and debate, and normalize having spicy discussions. Say “thank you” when a team member brings up a difficult topic or disagrees with you. You may still not agree with them in the end, but you need to show that you are appreciative of their candor. 

You may be initially annoyed when your team shares brutal facts with you. They are tough to digest! This is something I myself experience. To assure your team that you want them to be open and transparent, present them with a scale for rating your working relationships.

In this example that I have used with my own team, 10 is the best, and 1 is the worst. 

1-2:  You are unwilling to share tough and brutal facts with me.

3-5:  You share the brutal facts with me, but back off if I get annoyed.

6-7:  If I get annoyed, you have the courage to push past that and get me to discuss the brutal facts and possible solutions with you.

8-10:  You are able to push back even after I get annoyed multiple times, persuading me to look at the brutal facts and discuss possible solutions with you

How To Influence A "No" Person Culture

Finally, give everyone on your team permission to be a "No” Person, and do this publicly. This is an extremely important step for the CEO. You want to be approachable and give them an invitation to be heard. If this is not apparent, the team will treat you only as the boss and not as a person looking for the best solutions. 

Candor is a key ingredient of success. I would much rather be surrounded by “No” People who push back and take a stand than “Yes” People who agree with everything I say. Even if they verbally agree in the moment, they will likely leave the meeting with no passion for the project. This will make it difficult for them to take action, and when they do, they will whine every step of the way about the direction the company is taking. This is not good for the team and absolutely not good for the company. 


If you are ready to grow your company, you need to be ready to inspect your culture and environment.  Are you providing the right environment and encouragement for your team members to tell you what they really think? Is it safe to say “no”? Facing the brutal facts is uncomfortable, but you will be grateful you had teammates who were prepared to tell you the truth. 

Download Team  Accountability Assessment

Want More Helpful Tips on Converting “Yes" People In Your Organization? Check Out These Additional Resources:

Do You Create "Yes" Or "No" Players On Your Leadership Team?

Rhythm Strategy Management Software - How to Effectively Prepare for Weekly Meetings

Say No and Do Less to be a Superachiever

Driving Executive Team Accountability and Strategic Execution with Our Innovative Software

How to Set Clear Goals for Your Priorities

Patrick Thean


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