Halos, Horns and John Wooden


By Brian Wood

Have you ever been in a room with other decision makers and heard yourself judge a team member as “good” or “bad”?  While raising my hand to admit guilt, there is reflection and the realization that this type of judgment can be detrimental to leadership, organizational culture, team performance and results.

Once you place a halo on the head of a team member or direct report, you may find yourself fighting to defend this status that you’ve created.  Similar to the sports analyst predicting the outcome of the game – who then spends the rest of the broadcast explaining to the audience why he or she was right with their awesome thought process.

So when a player under performs or an employee “drops the ball” your position could be:

“This is clearly an anomaly – we all know how solid Smith is!”

But when that the same ball is dropped and you’ve previously installed horns on “Smith” – the reaction is quite different:

“I knew it!”  “As we predicted Smith doesn’t have what it takes – just another example of how we made the proper evaluation concerning the lack of talent – what a disgrace!”  “I’m so amazing”

Whoa!  What a minute!  There might be some ownership here.  Is it possible that this could be a “me” thing and an opportunity for me to enhance my leadership skills?

To quote the great John Wooden:

“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”

Ladies and gentlemen remember this:

  • No one can define your success unless you surrender that control.
  • Always work hard to perfect your craft and constantly improve (especially when no one is watching).
  • Continue to build relationships with different admired leaders in multiple departments, various organizations and different industries. These dynamics are more the same then they are different.  And understand that being on the receiving end of a halo or set of horns is irrelevant – don’t get trapped believing either –- you are still the one in control!

Until next time – continue to think big and achieve greatness!

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