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The Hardball Mind-Set

To win at hardball, you need the guts and the passion to confront the fundamental issues that are harming your business. Here's what you have to do.

Live at the Rock Face. You — not just your assistants or vice presidents or salespeople — have to truly understand your customers and your marketplace.

Don't Know. Having the courage to admit ignorance or asking the simplest of questions — "Why?" or "Who are our customers?" — can lead to winning insights.

Build a Truth-Telling Network. Hardball doesn't mean managing down. It means building a team of people who aren't afraid of the truth, even if the truth hurts.

A version of this article appeared in the February 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.