When most people think about golfing and doing business, they probably imagine a warm afternoon spent on the course entertaining clients. Everyone is enjoying the camaraderie as they drive the cart from green to green, soaking in the sunshine and making deals in the process. This paints an accurate picture; golf is a way of life for many businessmen and women.
But did you know that there are actual leadership lessons to be learned from playing the game itself? Over the years, I’ve learned a lot playing the game I love. For me, swinging a club and lining up putts has been both a passion and an educational experience. Here are five things I’ve learned about leadership from playing golf.
For most people, confidence comes from believing in your talents. In golf, that confidence comes with lots of practice. In order to become an effective leader, confidence is a must. You have to believe in your ideas, skills and proven abilities if you want others to believe in you and follow your direction. Confidence plays a major role during negotiations and enables you to be persuasive. It’s also a huge part of earning respect from those with whom you work.
Meeting a Challenge
While golf is notably an enjoyable sport, it’s also one that is known for its challenges. Have you ever hit a ball into the woods and had to retrieve it? Have you ever been stuck in a sand trap or dunked the ball in the water by mistake? Sure you have. And you’ve also figured out how to deal with such situations.
As a leader, you’re constantly faced with challenges: demanding customers, employee turnover, budget issues, and so on. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or an established CEO, you have to be able to address and resolve business challenges, many of which occur when you least expect it. If you can meet challenges on the course, you can do it in the office or boardroom.
Over 18 holes, you’re forced to make many decisions, from which club to use to how to navigate a difficult green. Ever hear Tiger Woods say “I missed it in all the right spots”? The more you play, the more it becomes habit, and the faster you can decide how to accomplish your objective. In time, your scorecard will reflect your decision-making abilities.
At work, being able to think on your feet and make tough decisions is one of the signs of a true leader. Your ability to make good strategic decisions marks you as an effective executive, paving the way for career and company growth.
You’re on the course as part of a fun foursome. Unfortunately, one of the four is a constant bragger, a chronic name-dropper or someone who always finds something to argue about. Of course, you’re not going to respond in a hostile way but you do have to get through the day’s play. And that is where your people skills are honed.
These same people skills can correlate to the office. We interact with superiors, board members, customers, vendors, and many others. As a leader, you have to possess good people skills, which means being able to relate to a diverse variety of personality types. Spending time golfing with friends and associates helps you develop your people skills, which will most certainly help you as a leader.
Focus and Concentration
That eight-foot putt isn’t going to sink itself. To get it into the cup can require focused concentration, so you try to block out everything except the ball and its path to the flag.
Similarly, you’re planning to launch a company or a new initiative. You’re going to need all the focus and concentration you can muster to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible. From the due diligence you did early on to the public announcement of the launch, you’ve had a laser focus. Success is within your grasp.
Lessons in leadership can come from many places. The office, the classroom or from friends and family. You can definitely learn from all of those places, but for me, I have learned the most valuable lessons on the golf course.