Monday, June 29, 2015

Truth vs. Faith in Decision Making

In this week's New York Times Corner Office column, Adam Bryant interviewed Tae Hea Nahm, Managing Director of Storm Ventures - a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California.  Nahm described a fundamental tension that exists between truth and faith when it comes to decision making.  I have never quite heard leadership described in this way, and I thought it was worth sharing here.  Here's an excerpt: 

The other thing I learned as C.E.O. is that it’s very lonely. If you share all the doubts and fears with people, then people sort of freak out, whether they’re other investors or employees or executives. You have to provide a path to success. So what I found as C.E.O. is that you almost need a split personality.  On the one hand, you have to appear like Moses, so that people believe that you’re going to take them to the Promised Land. And you have to present a very simple, clear path to success. On the other hand, if you just believe all of that, you can easily run the company off a cliff. Being a C.E.O. requires a lot of faith and passion, but for making decisions, sometimes truth and faith are different.  So you also have to be a skeptic, almost like Galileo. You can have beliefs, but you have to really search for the truth, which is often tied to bad news. 

Step back and consider your leadership style for a moment.  Are you terrific at the passion element described by Nahm, but perhaps blindly devoted to the path on which you have set out?   Or, are you appropriately open to alternative views, but perhaps not effective enough in selling the vision to your employees?  Have you struck the appropriate balance? 

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