Golfing Your Way to Good Management

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For a number of years I treated my direct reports to a golf lesson with a local pro. Actually, I'm not sure everyone thought of the experience at first as a treat. Some had never picked up a club except at a miniature golf course, some had had some frustrating experiences with this challenging game, but all were willing to give it a try. The pro was patient and had a great sense of humor, the days were warm and sunny, and more than a few of these good sports showed some real talent for the game. The main reason for these outings was to break up long days of meetings with some fun and camaraderie. But it also allowed these star performers to take a risk, feel what it was like to not be good at something, to be vulnerable. And golf's little tips offered insight into the world of work.

  1. Keep your eye on the ball, focus is everything. There are so many distractions and conflicting priorities in the life of a manager.? Setting and sticking to priorities that advance the mission of your work, making choices about how to spend valuable time, and seeing a project or task through are the keys to success.
  2. Swing easy, it's not about power, it's about connecting. As managers, we all have the power to hire, fire, direct work. As leaders we establish a relationship that allows and encourages our employees to do and be their best.
  3. Make good contact, let the ball know you're serious. Each employee who reports to you may be one of several on your staff, one of many on the line, but each employee is an individual who has relationships, activities, and responsibilities outside of the world of work. To be good managers do we need to know the excruciating details of every worker's life? For certain, the answer is no; however, understanding that the person before you is much more than a list of goals, tasks, and accomplishments will undoubtedly create a more enriching and dynamic relationship.
  4. Finish the swing, always follow through. If you promise, deliver.
  5. No matter how you play, remember that you're outside on a beautiful day while others are inside working. OK, maybe there's not an exact analogy here, but if you're lucky enough to do work that has a positive outcome on people who use your products and services, if you're lucky enough to love the work you do, and if you're lucky enough to work for and with people you admire and respect, you are among the fortunate.
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