He’s Baaaaaack: Leadership Lessons from the
Buzz at Augusta
The eyes of the world will be on Augusta, Georgia come April 8th. It’s the first golf major of the year. More alluring than the magnolias, however, is the fact that Tiger Woods will be back. After a self-imposed 4 ½-month leave of absence, he’s chosen The Masters as the venue to return to the public stage.
As we collectively critique and analyze Woods' decision, there are no big gasps of surprise. Of course he’s picked the most pristine environment to manage the crowds and media attention. Why wouldn’t he want to take every precaution to maximize a successful return? Selecting Augusta is just plain smart! He’s protecting himself from the skeptics and critics who will try to undermine his progress. This global-icon-turned-tabloid-staple figure made a mess of his life but there’s nothing wrong with stacking the deck for the best possible outcome. Research shows that when you control the process of self-improvement you maximize the probability of success. Tiger’s handlers know that all too well.
Like golf, leadership is a performance activity. It’s about what you do as well as how you do it. It’s about your actions. Even if your reputation’s never been at stake, you face difficult challenges in your work every day. You need to be a source of strength and stability for your patients and employees in order to have a successful practice. Embracing a dynamic process and an open-minded approach to the question, "How can I get better?" leads you down the road to greater productivity and profitability.
Unfortunately, when faced with a goal to achieve, we assume we have to accomplish the goal on our own. Why do we put this pressure on ourselves? This is surely one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make! Tiger didn’t create a plan for image rebuilding single-handedly. He has an entourage of advisers. Engaging others in pursuit of your goals is crucial. In other words, control the process to ensure the best possible outcome.
Personal and professional self-improvement is your responsibility, and as such you need to consciously plan and have realistic expectations. Undoubtedly Tiger knows that he’s in for a rough ride, even if he is starting at Augusta. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. What key competencies will have the greatest impact on your life, career or goals? Identify one or two areas you would like to develop.
Enlist every resource you can in helping you achieve your goals. This may include books, articles, seminars or training you need to attend. List the resources that you are going to investigate to help you in your growth. Given the extreme complexity of today’s business environment, direction setting and decision making are way too big for one person to handle. Seek the help of experts who can help accelerate your learning. Determine who will advise, push, cheerlead and support you. Explain your goals to those people and invite them to help you.
If you are trying new behaviors, be sure the atmosphere is affirming and the risks are manageable. Any new behavior you try to learn (or unlearn) will initially be difficult to accomplish. Your body and mind are not used to doing things in the new way. Doing things differently feels awkward. In the beginning, you’re clumsy. Nobody likes being clumsy. Clumsy just doesn’t seem professional. It can be frustrating to feel like you’re a beginner again. Particularly if your well-oiled pattern of behavior is what allowed you to succeed in the past. To find a new ‘comfort zone’ means you need to be uncomfortable for a while. Therefore select people who will be forgiving and supportive in situations that are low-risk.
As you develop greater confidence you have to expand your field of practice… and practice, practice, practice! This means deliberately taking time each day to exercise the new behavior you want to learn. The most important factor is conscious focus for designated short specific practice sessions. Carve out periods of time to intentionally engage in the new pattern of action.
While Tiger's past golf performance has been inspiring, his comeback from this predicament will be even more inspiring. For you, times are tough right now as well. To survive through the recession means being mindful of your behaviors and aligning your actions with your practice vision. You have a choice about how you will respond. You can impact your practice in a powerful way. Plant your feet. Talk more with your employees and your patients. Include others in your decisions. Reach out for support and help. Be hopeful in your thinking and your actions. And swing away!
Dr. Haller provides training for leadership effectiveness, interpersonal communication, conflict management, and team building. If you would like to learn more contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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