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Political “Yes Men” – and a Warning for All of Us

Somebody usually warns us. The bad decisions we make in life are avoidable if, and it is a big if, we would exercise the Humility to ask for and listen to the advice of others.

History is full of leaders who did not choose Humility. Instead, they surrounded themselves with “Yes Men.” The previous two presidents who faced impeachment, needed to be told “No.” I am sure there were individuals available to speak truth to them, but did they? Did these leaders create an environment where decisions could be questioned? We know in both historical cases, people knew their president was doing something wrong. Those people were either ignored or they said “Yes” in word, deed or inaction. (Inaction is another way of saying “Yes.”)

I know what it is like to be told “No.” Honestly, there are times I wish I had a team of “Yes Men.” I could easily argue it would make my life easier but I know I have blindspots. I need my team, my family and my friends to tell me what I don’t see. The saying goes, “You can’t smell your own bad breath.” I need people who will point out when I am off base. Now I admit, I don’t like it when someone tells me “No”—but in retrospect, I see the benefit. When other people lead with character and say “No”, it can prevent me from making bad decisions - both large and small.


  • I’ve had work peers and employees keep me from stepping into the gray areas in my corporate days.

  • I’ve had a friend who has kept me from angrily responding to a text from my wife, on more than one occasion.

  • And I’ve been fortunate my wife has often kept me from making sarcastic comments at inappropriate times.

It takes Courage to tell a leader “No.” It takes Humility to be open to hearing the truth.