Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For An Answer

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Advance Praise for Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For An Answer

Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer addresses a perennial and pernicious thorn in the leader's side -- the yes-men in every organization. (And if you think your company is without them, you really need this book!) Leaders at all levels can use Mike Roberto's advice, to make better decisions and align their teams for results.


Ken Blanchard, Co-Author of The One Minute ManagerŪ and Customer Mania


In his book Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, Michael Roberto provides a unique and very enlightening look into the process of decision making.  His thesis around "critical consensus building" is worthwhile reading for any manager or entrepreneur that strives to be the most effective leader they can be.


Jonathan Kraft, Vice Chairman, New England Patriots


Unasked questions and undermined decisions are the two main reasons for corporate failure. To avoid these dangerous wrong turns, every executive should study Professor Roberto’s clear road maps for making and implementing decisions.


Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., Chairman of the Board, International Steel Group


Too often leaders mistake silence for agreement. Roberto offers concrete advice on how to beat this trap. A must-read for leaders at all levels.

Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Stanford W. Ascherman M.D. Professor, Stanford University and Co-director, Stanford Technology Ventures Program


Deciding how to decide: a powerful idea that all leaders should understand and put into practice. In doing so, they can become adept at stimulating candid dialogues, testing their company's core assumptions, and achieving alignment. Roberto's ideas have already begun to make a profound difference in the effectiveness of our management meetings. Our clients around the world would do well to adopt Roberto's straightforward recommendations.


Ed Boswell, President and CEO, The Forum Corporation


One of the best compliments an author can get is for someone to begin reading a book and not put it down until it is finished. This was my experience with Roberto’s great tome on leadership. The quotes at the beginning of each chapter are classic. Many of the examples helped me understand some of my best leadership decisions and also a few of my worst in running the specialized investment banking firm I have headed for the past 31 years.  There are few really good books on leadership, at least few that I have read. Roberto’s is the best.


Matthew R. Simmons, Author, Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy and Chairman, Simmons and Company International


A great primer for all leaders on the art and science of decision-making.  Michael used examples ranging from the disastrous 1996 Everest Climb to the Columbia disaster, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban Missile Crisis to thoughtfully outline best practices in the process of "deciding how to decide!”


Lawrence N. Stevenson, CEO, PepBoys


Every executive aspiring to be a good leader should read this book.  First, Roberto crashes the myth that holds many back from being good leaders.  That is, good leaders need to make the decisions.  Instead, Roberto asserts that to be a good leader one must manage the decision making process, not make the good decisions.  But it is Roberto’s insight into the decision making process, or more importantly, the drivers of organizational performance that is most valuable.  All of us, no matter what level in the organization, need to embrace the need for cognitive conflict to produce the highest quality decisions, while guarding against the ways in which affective conflict can greatly deteriorate the shared understanding and consensus necessary for effective implementation of these decisions.  Roberto offers many tools and techniques for all of us to use to improve our ability to manage conflict and improve our organization’s effectiveness and performance.  While I believe that Constellation’s success results from the fact that our operational model and its supporting culture and value reflect much of what Roberto describes, I also believe that we can use this model to insure that managing conflict becomes an enduring part of Constellation’s leadership culture.


Richard Sands, Chairman of the Board and CEO, Constellation Brands, Inc.


How we make decisions is what organizational leadership is all about, and with powerful accounts and compelling research, Michael Roberto brilliantly leads us to the essence of deciding how to decide when it really matters.


Michael Useem, William and Jacalyn Egan Professor of Management, Wharton School of Business and Author of The Leadership Moment


The premise of this book is music to my ears.  For years I’ve been working with teams of people facing real challenges, both in the great outdoors with Outward Bound or in the midst of bringing my educational venture to life.  Roberto has elegantly and eloquently put his finger on the very heart of the leadership dilemma.  I look forward to putting the lessons to work at Shackleton Schools as we inspire and educate the next generation of leaders.


Luke O’Neill, CEO and Founder, Shackleton Schools


Today, every CEO, in the rapidly changing business environment, cudgels his or her brains out on how to make and execute decisions effectively.  This book is very much useful in that it shows extensively how to deal with such issues, together with abundant examples.  Japanese business managers should read it to be exposed to such approaches that, I believe, are well applicable to consensus-driven Japanese companies.


Shozo Hashimoto, Former CEO, Nomura Research Institute, Ltd.


Through the ages, many leaders have paid a price for not comprehending the need to balance conflict and consensus in the decision-making groups they head.  Mike Roberto frames this tension exquisitely and provides tangible guidance for leaders who want variety, ferment, and constructive tension in their groups on the one hand, and unity in execution on the other.  Based upon a wealth of rigorous academic research, and with loads of up-to-date and engaging examples, this book is a must for leaders at all levels.


Donald C. Hambrick, Smeal Chaired Professor of Management, Smeal College of Business Administration, The Pennsylvania State University


Do you want to release the potential of your organization?  If you have the ego strength to hear contrary ideas, this is a fantastic read.  Each paragraph, each sentence, is powerful, offering tools and suggestions to bring your organization to a higher level.


Gerardine Ferlins, President and CEO, Cirtronics Corporation


Michael Roberto has written a soundly researched, yet easy to read, practical business book that can ensure that you will make better executive decisions. Read it and profit from its wisdom!


Dr. Drea Zigarmi, Coauthor of The Leader Within and Leadership and the One Minute Manager


This book is an important contribution to managerial best practice.  Roberto gives an impressive synthesis of original and prior research in writing that is rich, well-crafted, to the point, and studded with compelling case examples.  Get this book and study it carefully as a tonic for decision processes in your own firm.


Robert F. Bruner, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia


Drawing on both decision making scholarship in a number of academic disciplines and clinical research in organizations, Roberto develops a most useful way of thinking about decision making in complex organizations and provides a number of conceptual tools that executives can apply right away and that provide some new frontiers for scholars to study further.


E. Ralph Biggadike, Professor of Professional Practice, Columbia University Graduate School of Business


Professor Roberto has provided a rigorous, research-based, and much-needed framework that allows executives to improve their decision making. Those managers who want to improve decision making –and results– need to read this book.


Professor Morten Hansen, INSEAD


Far too often leaders squelch dissenting views and make it difficult for employees to deliver bad news.  Others find it difficult to manage contentious debate and obtain closure on tough issues.  Roberto provides practical advice for how leaders can encourage constructive disagreement, use this to achieve more creative solutions, and ultimately effect alignment and action.


Jeff Weiss, Director and Founder, Vantage Partners


While reading Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer, I kept thinking of the strategic decisions my team and I have made, and wished I had read the book 25 years ago. Focus on the decision making process--not the decision itself--is the lesson of this book, and one that all executives need to learn. 


William C. Byham, Ph.D., Chairman & CEO, Development Dimensions International and Author of Grow Your Own Leaders


Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer rises far and above the other books on encouraging openness and managing conflict. Instead of offering empty platitudes, Michael Roberto has delivered a thoughtful and well-researched book with clear, specific actions to make the lessons work in the real world. Anyone who supports the clear exchange of ideas can and should benefit from this excellent and thoroughly enjoyable book.


Dr. David Sirota, Chairman Emeritus of Sirota Survey Intelligence and Author of The Enthusiastic Employee: How Companies Profit by Giving Workers What They Want                                


This is a book that should be on every manager's desk. Roberto writes in clear, easy to read language about why managing conflict and decision-making in an explicit manner is so important to organizational success. He also gives practical examples of how to do it. The chapter on "deciding how to decide" alone is worth the price of the book.


Sue Annis Hammond

Author of The Thin Book of Appreciative Inquiry

Consultant, HRD Solutions


Professor Roberto addresses a critical and often over-looked aspect of
leadership ... generating honest, direct debate in an organization. And,
more importantly, he provides a practical perspective on managing such debate to produce effective outcomes.


Thomas C. Leppert

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Turner Corporation






Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For An Answer:

Managing For Conflict and Consensus

Wharton School Publishing