When The Statistics Lie

Have you ever been provided a report from your subordinates that gave you the impression that all was well within your organization- but you knew better? Have you ever stopped to wonder why that might be? The fact remains that sometimes the statistics lie.

If you’re Jerry Jones, Owner of the Dallas Cowboys, taking a closer look might just be the necessary next step. On paper his football franchise looks better than ever- key talent has been retained; new talent is being cultivated; he has a strong coaching staff; and everyone knows that if a problem can be solved by cash flow, Jerry can get the job done. This past weekend Jerry’s “Boys in Blue” faced off against the Chicago Bears. Coming off a loss to their league rivals, the Washington Redskins, America’s Team made a few key changes in their game plan: they replaced the newly acquired Ram’s cast-off, Alex Barron, with the much more capable and now-healthy Marc Colombo; Jason Garrett, the Offensive Coordinator, used a wider arsenal of offensive talent in both rushing and passing plays; and Tony Romo received enough pocket protection from the offensive line to throw for 374 yards. On paper, those seem like excellent improvements. Yet, Dallas fans everywhere are lamenting this morning over yet another loss. The Cowboys haven’t faced a 0-2 start since 2001 and I can’t imagine Jerry Jones is pleased.

As a leader, if Jerry Jones merely looked at a few isolated statistics, he might be confused by his team’s losses. I assure you he’s looking beyond the statistics now. He’s likely to get some exercise opening and closing his wallet to acquire a field goal kicker; he’ll certainly be bringing in the best sports medicine can offer to get Jason Witten and Mike Jenkins back on the field; and if he’s smart, he’ll have a serious talk with his head coach about assuming responsibility instead of throwing players under the bus with the media.

The same problem can occur on every team. If the leader relies solely on basic reports (employee satisfaction surveys, command climate surveys, sensing sessions, and other generic polling options) to get a feel for the needs of his or her team, they are likely to be fooled by statistics that fail to paint the real picture. The only way to get the truth is to be involved. If you catch a glimpse of a Cowboys’ game in the fourth quarter, you won’t find Jerry Jones in the Skybox- because he’s down on the field encouraging his team (or frightening them).

Monday Morning Perspective:
Good leaders make people feel that they’re at the very heart of things, not at the periphery.” -Warren G. Bennis

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.” -Sam Walton

Simple Steps to Success

1.     Be present and available to those you lead. Out of sight is truly out of mind.

2.    Ask questions and listen to the answers. Thank people for their input even if there’s nothing you can do to immediately improve the situation.

3.    Be honest about challenges and get your people on board to help overcome them.

4.    Develop your people intentionally- with the team as the central focus. Instead of a competition, excellence should be a collective effort.

5.    Get involved and expect others to do the same. All levels of leadership have a role to play. Just like in a football game, a great offense is no balance for a lack of defense and vice-versa. Everyone has to contribute.

Have a wonderful week!

ISSN: 2158-1355
© Crystal Dyer 2010. All Rights Reserved.

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