For those of us who enjoy watching and occasionally playing golf … we have a new image for the AGONY OF DEFEAT … Jordan Spieth in despair on the 12th hole of the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia last week. It was very painful to watch as this very talented wonderkid of golf had a momentary melt down that ended up costing him sure victory and another coveted Green Jacket. It was another reminder of how FRAGILE and elusive success can be sometimes … especially when we lose focus for just that split second. There is no doubt that Jordan will take lessons from this painful moment and come back stronger and tougher than ever. That is what true champions and agile leaders do…learn from adversity to become better.
In our consulting practice, we actually use the game of golf in a business simulation and team building program called LINKS2AGILITY where we help teams learn agility tools and processes and then break them into small teams (called foursomes) where they apply agile problem-solving as they get a new envelope each hole with the “rules” of that hole and a challenge to solve for best team performance outcomes.
There are also many useful parallels between a game like golf and the challenges we face being an effective leader in challenging environments. It can be useful and sometimes even fun to have your swing videotaped so you can get and see 360° feedback on your swing mechanics. No doubt there is a direct relationship between the shape and dynamics in our golf swings and set-up with the outcomes and end results. Are we routinely slicing or hooking our shots … or worse yet have random and unpredictable outcomes? Good coaches and PGA pro’s can watch your swing or film and provide feedback on mechanics causing some of these undesirable outcomes. In similar fashion, it is useful to get 360° feedback about our leadership practices, like with our LEADERSHIP AGILITY PROFILE, and to tie together our leadership mechanics (e.g. ability to create clarity, unity and agility) with the outcomes we seek (e.g. focused, fast & flexible teams).
Hank Haney, Tiger Woods’ coach back when he was winning big, talks about the three keys to improving your golf game – I think they also apply to your leadership. Figure out what is your “big miss” in your game and concentrate on fixing that to avoid “penalty” shots. Second, concentrate on second shot consistency and avoid three putts on the green. All sounds real easy – yet we know it is not. To me, there is great value in becoming aware of what the “big miss” is for our leadership – our interpersonal communication style, lack of emotional intelligence about our team dynamics, need to develop stronger strategic or business acumen. You can take your own leadership agility self-assessment here and then explore with others to get more feedback about your leadership swing in these important areas. Hopefully this will help you and others on your team improve your game and avoid the AGONY OF DEFEAT in those moments of truth to matter to you.