Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer

  • by Michael A. Roberto
  • Narrated by Stow Lovejoy
  • 7 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

It's the curse faced by every leader. And it will happen to you, whether you run a company or lead a mountain climbing expedition, whether you're a football coach or the president of the United States. It's the curse of "yes". Leaders hear "yes" far too often. Your power inhibits candor. You don't hear bad news until it's too late. You get groupthink, not reality. You think you've achieved consensus, then find your decisions undermined by colleagues who never really bought in.Inevitable? Absolutely not. Harvard Business School's Michael Roberto draws on powerful decision-making case studies from every walk of life, showing how to promote honest, constructive dissent and skepticism; use it to improve your decisions; and align your entire organization behind those decisions. You'll learn from disasters like the Space Shuttle Columbia and JFK's Bay of Pigs Invasion; from successes like Sid Caesar and Bill Parcells; from George W. Bush's decision-making after 9/11. Roberto complements his compelling case studies with extensive new research on executive decision-making. You'll discover how to test and probe your management team; when "yes" means yes and when it doesn't; and how to build real consensus that leads to action. You'll gain important new insights into managing teams, mitigating risk, promoting corporate ethics, and much more. Your organization and your executive team have immense untapped wisdom. This book will help you tap that wisdom to the fullest.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Advocates a Particular Style

OK, so we all know that the quality of a leader is inversely proportional to the number yes men that she retains. Jack Welch said something like a chronic and systemic lack of candor is business's "dirty little secret". But what to do?

This book advocates something like an anti-yes-man culture, an in your face argumentative style. As a reluctant researcher, I like this style. But little deep insight is presented that fundamentally supports the idea that this is the best style. Recently, I've been doing business in Asian and European and it's become much clearer that the style advocated by this book is at odds with many cultures. I've also seen a professor run a research group that was so confrontational that certain students, especially if they were otherwise different, were unable to break into the group, in spite of having as much talent as the insiders. At some point you can replace a culture of yes-men with a debating society culture where nothing gets done. The book fails to acknowledge these or any other limits of its core idea. So as an intellectual work it largely fails.

However, as a slightly superficial how to book it's well done. And you find yourself saying, "Yes, that's exactly what we need", often enough to be ironic.
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- Kenneth "Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining."

Decisions, decisions

Very enlightening book, with a lot of nice examples. It let you think about your role in the company. Good reading (or listening) for managers on all levels.
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- Pavel

Book Details

  • Release Date: 05-17-2007
  • Publisher: Audible Studios