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Five Leadership Lessons from the Links

It’s Masters Week! If you are a golf fan, you know this is one of the biggest weeks of the entire golf season. Not only is the Masters one of the major tournaments, winning it comes with the coveted ‘Green Jacket’. This seems, for me, to mark the real beginning of spring time, and marks that point when we can put away the cold gear and start wearing the sandals (yeah, small things make me happy).

But what can we learn about leadership from golf? Quite a bit as it turns out.

Here are five leadership lessons from the links!

  1. Patience – as an avid golfer, this is one of my biggest challenges. I am not a patient person, by nature, and remembering to stay in the moment and not get more than one shot ahead of myself is critical. The same can be true in leadership. If we try to rush results, we may find ourselves backed into a corner (or behind a tree) with no chance of escape. Leadership, like golf, is a long game, and we must be patient to see our results come to fruition.
  2. Timing – it’s everything, they say. I believe this is one of my best talents as a leader. Just like in golf, where there is a time to hit the driver and a time to be smart and hit iron off the tee, leadership is about timing. You will learn a lot of information and gain a lot of insight when you combine patience (#1) with timing (#2). Just because you have an issue that needs to be addressed or an employee has done something that will require a conversation doesn’t mean you need to run down the hallway and have the conversation. Holding on to the conversation until the timing is right can move it from reprimand to teachable moment. Your employees will come to respect you so much more if you focus on timing as much as you do addressing the issues.
  3. Stick to your game plan – not everything will go your way. In a round of golf, you may hit 70 to 100 (or more) shots over the course of 18 holes. They will not all be perfect. If you go into the round knowing you’ll hit certain shots or clubs depending on the given situation, you are much less reactive and can avoid taking one mistake and compounding it into a much bigger mistake (see timing above). Leadership is right on par with this (see what I did there 😉) in that you’ll develop a plan for your school year, an initiative, a process for registration or scheduling, etc and something inevitably will go off the rails. Stick to your gameplan and remain focused on the outcome you had in mind.
  4. Sometimes you end up in the rough if you play the game like I do, you will see the one lone tree or shrub or sand trap from the tee box and find a way to hit it. While the game is played best from the fairway, you will find yourself in the longer grass, the sand, on the cart path, and so forth during your round. It’s ok…really. Not every shot is perfect. We all make mistakes! Watch the pros…they do it too (and usually stick to their game plan #4). Don’t try to make it all up on one shot. In leadership, you’ll land in the rough when something you don’t expect comes your way. If you approach it the same way as playing golf from the rough, you will make it through with little or no penalty is the goal. Work through the issue, challenge, or change of plan from those above you in small steps and you’ll be back in the fairway in no time at all.
  5. Never assume something is a gimme – sometimes a two-foot putt can be tougher than it seems. Don’t assume something will be easy, just because it might seem that way. Approach every shot with the same seriousness and intensity as you would the most important shot of the day.

Have a #RoadToAwesome week


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