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Is Your Team Failing Elegantly?

By: John Hamm
Posted: October 28, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Don’t encourage editorialized data. Leaders, being eternal optimists and enthusiasts, also have a dangerous tendency to signal, often unconsciously, their dislike of bad news. When that happens, subordinates will begin to shape and color the data to meet the leader’s hopeful expectations and emotional needs, rather than the leader’s intellectual needs. Excellent leaders demand that performance feedback data be delivered promptly and be uncolored, objective, plentiful and robust.

Don’t fail to measure what matters. The right metrics will serve you in enormously useful ways. Measuring what matters is perhaps the very highest use of leadership authority in leading the domain of execution. The one thing you must have, to make the real-time course corrections that will inevitably be required, is good data. Invest in what is required to gather, analyze and present the data you need—quickly, accurately and easily.

Don’t allow the commitment to winning to slip. A tolerance for excuses, corrupt data that compromises strategy and a distorted view of what is really happening all can result in systematic failure. When your spa team has already begun to distance itself from an absolute commitment to winning, it starts blaming everything and everyone. The fact that many people—the honest and secure ones—see what’s happening and hold the behavior in contempt often proves to be an effective vaccine against the contagion spreading.

John Hamm is one of the top leadership experts in Silicon Valley and was named one of the country’s Top 100 venture capitalists in 2009 by AlwaysOn. Hamm has also been a CEO, a board member at more than 30 companies, and a CEO adviser and executive coach to senior leaders at companies such as Cisco and Hewlett-Packard.