I was fortunate in my youth to be introduced to the game of golf. While it can be a frustrating game at times, it’s a game that I love and have passed along now to my two sons. Playing a round of golf on a warm summer day with family and friends is something I always look to and will continue to do so for as long as I’m able to play.
I’ve often referred to leadership as being like the game of golf because golf is a game that you can’t win, you can only play. Somedays you play great, and somedays you can barely get your tee into the ground, but you still keep trying to improve and get better.
Much like leadership, in golf you are never truly done learning. Just because you hit a perfect shot, doesn’t mean you will hit that perfect shot again. Golf, like leadership requires practice, effort, and constantly making little tweaks, slights adjustments, and of course those Quarter Turns that are the difference between success and non-success.
After playing a round of golf with my sons over the holiday week, I thought about the simple lessons from my golf game that are as true today as they were when I learned them in my youth and how they apply to those in leadership.
Simple Leadership Lessons from the game of golf.
- Play the Ball as it Lies. In leadership we don’t get to change our circumstances. Every day a new challenge is presented to you, and each of those challenges gets to be met and dealt with as it is. Wishing we had a better situation doesn’t change that, and hope is not a strategy. Effective leaders assess the situation, take in all the information, and then make a decision to address the challenge by utilizing whatever resources are available at that time.
- Keep Your Head Down. There are many times in leadership that you will want to think about what next and that’s a big part of the job. There are also times when you simply need to keep your head down, and stay focused on the task at hand otherwise your grand plans for the future will not matter. Knowing when to zoom in and zoom out of your business is something you learn through trial and error. Too much zooming out- strategic thinking and you lose touch with what’s happening in the business. Too much zooming in- your micro-managing the process and stifling the teams growth and productivity. Knowing exactly when and how long to keep your head down is a big part of becoming an effective leader and something you continuously get to work on throughout your career.
- Move the ball forward. In golf, every shot will not be perfect and in leadership, every decision will not work out exactly like you planned it. The goal is to keep your team and your business moving forward. Somedays it will feel like you made significant progress towards your goals and outcomes. Other days it will feel like a grind. Your job is to keep the project and the team focused on the end game and keep the momentum moving forward no matter the circumstances. Sometimes the only way you can do that is by staying positive, bringing the right energy and showing up as a leader for your team on those tough days and weeks. Remember no one cares about leadership when you are winning. Get your team to focus on what’s going right vs what’s going wrong, keep them focused on moving the ball forward and eventually you can gain the right momentum and get back on track.
- Practice Practice Practice. Remember, Leadership, like golf, is a game that you can’t win, you can only play. If you don’t practice, then your game will surely suffer. It doesn’t matter if you were good last week, last month or last year. If you stop learning, growing, and applying your skills in leadership, then you are not only hurting your chances for success, but you are hurting your organization as well. Lifelong learning in no longer optional if you want to stay at the top of your game. Practice often and use what you’ve learned.
Summer is a great time get back out on the golf course and chase that little white ball around and if you stick to these 4 simple rules then hopefully you can keep your game and your business on track for a lifetime of success.
Until next time
Cheers to you and your continued success, and of course a round or two of golf
One Quarter Turn at a Time