-- Applications for Leaders?
Ok, like every other frustrated golfer on the planet, I enjoy watching the tournaments on television. Last weekend, they held the "World Golf Championships" series; this time, the Accenture Match Play Championship. To spoil the suspense you surely must be experiencing right now, Tiger won the event. Handily.
There's a shocker for you.
Tiger is like the 800-pound gorilla in golf. In fact, a real 800-pound gorilla probably trembles a bit seeing Tiger on the tee box beside him. Really. He's that much of a dominant force on the PGA Tour. Anyway, back to my story...
So, sometime during the final round on Sunday afternoon, as Tiger is simply trouncing Stewart Cink into the ground, Frank Nobilo (professional golfer-turned-mediocre-analyst) had something of a revelation... he decided he knew the keys to beating Tiger.
In fact, quite creatively, he called them "The Keys to Beating Tiger." Go figure...
These keys, I realized, aren't so different than what we face in our leadership roles today, so I thought I'd share them here, with some comments on how we can use them for business and leadership success. Here goes:
#1. Play like there's no tomorrow. In business leadership, there really IS no tomorrow, if we don't find a way to compete effectively against dominant players in our market. We need to realize that, no matter how critical we see our long-range plans (and they are certainly important), the most important day is always today.
As leaders, then, we should develop our plans (like "practice" in our golf analogy), then when we are ready, we must Execute. And successful execution happens in the here and now - it happens today. So, play that part of your game - the execution part - like there's no tomorrow.
Screw up today, and there may not be a tomorrow...
#2. Be prepared to take one on the chin. No question, as leaders we hate to lose. Even a short-term battle. That's part of why we're successful, and why we hold the roles we do.
But we simply must realize that, as leaders, we will occasionally take a punch or two. In fact, sometimes we feel we're doing 8 rounds with Mike Tyson or Sugar Ray Leonard (sorry, mixing my metaphors in this newsletter).
The issue isn't whether we do or don't occasionally get whacked on, it's what we do with it when it happens. The key, here, is to take the punch and get right back in the thick of things.
It's not the end of the world, so take it on the chin, so to speak, and move on to the next challenge.
#3. Try to irritate him by being unafraid. Ok, this one doesn't translate well, I must admit. So, let's turn it around so it does:
Make sure we don't take things personal; business and leadership can, at times, feel incredibly personal. In many ways that's a good thing. In other ways, if we find ourselves believing that emotions are driving bad decisions or behaviors, we need to step aside, realize that this whole "leadership" thing is a process, and bring those emotions back down to manageable levels.
In heated or otherwise emotional moments, we have the opportunity to demonstrate real, personal leadership. Take the high road; there's damned little traffic up there.
#4. Punish him for any mistake he may make. Now, out of context, this would seem to be a harsh and, well, mercenary approach. In the context of effective leadership and performance management, however, maybe "not so much."
For example: Assuming we set reasonable, achievable performance standards, then we must manage appropriately when those standards are not met. Maybe not strictly as "punishment," per se, but we must make it crystal clear that this is a performance standard (emphasis on the standard), and we expect that standard to be met or exceeded.
It's a minimum performance threshold, and as such, any performance or behavior below that threshold, or standard must be addressed. Again, it's not necessarily punishment, of course, but it is, in fact, a non-negotiable element of our relationship.
(Work with me here - I needed to make it match up to the whole "Keys to Beating Tiger" thing!)
So, Frank Nobilo may have intended his "Keys to Beating Tiger" to be a set of principles to succeed against the greatest golfer in the world; we can also use them, if we squint the right way, in our quest to become and remain successful leaders.
I took a picture of the "Keys" above with my cell phone while they were still on the television screen. My son, Stephen, obviously thinking I'd gone off the deep end, asked, "So, is that so you'll remember when you play against Tiger?"
Never mind the sarcasm, son. At least I'll be ready...