Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For An Answer

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Check out the latest reviews of Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes For An Answer.

Publishers Weekly
In this highly readable volume, Harvard Business School professor Roberto demonstrates that the key to making successful strategic business decisions lies in the decision-making process itself. Through nine refreshingly jargon-free chapters, along with helpful graphs and charts, Roberto argues that "good process entails the astute management of the social, political and emotional aspects of decision making." Persuasively employing case studies-from an analysis of the 2003 Columbia space shuttle disaster to the deadly 1996 accident atop Mount Everest to John F. Kennedy's management the Cuban Missile Crisis-Roberto enlivens his primary thesis that failed leadership often fixates "on the question 'What decision should I make?' rather than asking 'How should I go about making the decision?'"

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The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

The book is rich in both theory and examples. It will undoubtedly illuminate deficiencies in your own decision-making processes...

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Fort Worth Star Telegram

Roberto, of course, is by no means alone in advising leaders of businesses and other organizations to respect and encourage diverging views. But he separates himself from the pack with an in-depth exploration of the human and organizational obstacles that can inhibit sound decision-making processes.

In that connection he offers enlightening insights into how leaders can recognize and overcome a "culture of yes," a "culture of no" and a "culture of maybe," three serious obstacles to organizational success.

To sum up the thrust of Roberto's process-centric approach to leadership and decision-making: How the buck got there is just as important as where it stops.

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Kirkus Reviews

Harvard Business School professor Roberto doesn't like yes-men, and he fears that leaders are too quick to surround themselves with people who tell them what they want to hear, rather than the truth.  Here, he urges leaders to encourage honest debate, discussion, and feedback.  Managers should take seriously the concerns and questions of those who work for them, and they should strive to create an atmosphere in which people are not afraid to offer reasoned, well-thought-out criticism.  Genuine consensus, Roberto urges, is something that has to actively be built-it doesn't come from papering over disagreement.  This doesn't mean that leaders waffle, or wallow in indecision; rather, they cultivate candor, but always remain in control of the decision-making process.  Based on almost a decade of research, this book is sober and balanced.  Roberto studies not only fortune 500 firms, but also nonprofit organizations, teams of firefighters and mountain-climbers and government policymakers.  The result is a book that can be easily translated into the idiom of almost any organization.  And it couldn't be a timelier message.  Whether you're in politics, business, or running the family farm, you should take heed.  Perhaps if Martha Stewart (or Ken Lay, or the leaders of a half a dozen mutual funds) had followed Roberto's advice, the contemporary business scene would be healthier, trustworthier, and more profitable.

The Chicago Tribune

What you'll learn: Managers need to understand that "please the boss" or "fear the boss" are the motivations behind employees usually saying "yes," or saying nothing while thinking "no." Employees are smart; they understand that they never have to defend agreement or silence. Most believe saying "no" opens the door to being branded a dissenter, a non-team player, etc.  Real leaders define the parameters of the outcome and manage others through the decision-making process...

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Brevard Technical Journal

You will be greatly rewarded if you read his book. His ideas for leading a business or organization are cutting edge...

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The Economic Times (India)

Roberto’s book has case studies ranging from the illfated Mount Everest expedition in 1996 to the Columbia space shuttle disaster and the aborted Bay Of Pigs invasion, with each event highlighting the importance of inducing constructive conflict within a team and then leading it to a consensus. Important lessons emerge out of these incidents for CEOs, because even though the leader has to take the decisions, he has to cultivate a sense of debate amongst the team, else all he’ll get is yes men...

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The Financial Times

Roberto argues that the key to good decision-making is m aintaining a balance between dissent and consensus. As Bernoulli would have confirmed, the right decision is more likely if all options have been thoroughly explored. This is easier in an environment that encourages dissent and tolerates discord.

Yet too much discord is destructive. Once a final decision has been reached, efficiency requires that an organisation rallies behind it. The job of any leader is to create an organisation that resembles the Balkans before a decision and Switzerland after the event.

Roberto studied dozens of debacles and tragedies, ranging from the Columbia space shuttle disaster to the commercially disastrous launch of New Coke. In each case he found a singular lack of candour, conflict and debate in the run-up to fateful decisions. Options were not fully discussed, consequences not fully explored...

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Midwest Book Review

Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer is recommended for all business people, but especially for those who utilize committees and boards for direction.

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

Managing For Conflict and Consensus

Wharton School Publishing