A game of golf holds management wisdom, but only if you know how to take note.

For those who don’t follow golf, William Wordsworth’s run down of it as “a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness,“ would seem apt. But golf is not only a very technically demanding sport; it is also an ideal field to draw out leadership lessons for the workplace.

Chipping around that little white, dimpled ball on lush expanses of green has for decades served as a great setting to talk business, network, revel in bonhomie and just lighten up. But many organisations are increasingly borrowing notes from golf on leadership.

G Ravindran, former CEO and MD of Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM) India, says, “Golf encourages character building.Everything from preparation, managing resources and the environment, execution, to decision-making, integrity, handling pressure…you name it. Golf allows unhurried conversations in an open, uninhibited environment.“ Channelling its ambience and essence into the workplace is what enhances office dynamics, feel management gurus.


You can’t fix your golf swing on the course. You must go for a tough shot with your gut, with whatever you have got. Similarly, you must respond to difficult situations by counting on your instinct, which is a key aspect of being a leader.

Golfers know they must trust their natural `swing’. Leadership is about not wavering in the face of adversity or temptation, says Ravindran. “Golf is ideal to showcase ambivalence. It is easy to see how limitations and capabilities coexist in the same person; how challenges and opportunities go together; how skills, technique, strategy, stance, experience, innova tion are all there. But come crunch time, the player has no one and nothing to blame -not the club, caddy or the course. Once they step onto the green, once the leadership stance is taken, the only thing resent is `I’.“


Leadership gurus have found that in golf, as you play shoulder-to-shoulder with others, you are likely to try harder on upping your game than give it up. Likewise, leading with a healthy team drives everybody to improve their quality of work.

When bad shots happen on the golf course, the key is in not hitting another bad one while fretting about the one that went wrong.Leadership too demands you to quickly learn from your failures and put them behind you before the mistakes assume exponential proportions. Ravindran says, “While Bobby Jones may have depended on his silken smooth swing, Walter Hagen knew that “three poor shots and one great shot still made par.“


This is why the game can be leveraged to develop the spirit of `ownership’, he feels. “Golf, as in life, constantly tests the conscience; for example, between playing by the rules or taking shortcuts.Understanding the real purpose, knowing why we do what we do and the desire to re-chart the course of play, work, or life…is the key for any development. And all change or growth begins with the self. While you may hire a personal coach to enable you to drive a ball 300 yards on the practice tee, this learning is of no value if you do not put any of the golf swings you learnt into practice or refuse to accept feedback from your golfing partners and scores.

There are times when you need to take risks and aim higher. While a safe shot to the landing area may keep you in play and set up the next shots well, you should step up and go for the biggie if your gut says you can make the cut.

But as with golf, leadership can’t be mastered. One can only keep up the self-improvement with constant practice and learning from experience. Mastering both though is hard as there is always more to achieve if one wishes to continue their journey towards excellence.

written and provided by Keith Miller of iSocialTech for The Asian Entrepreneur.

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