Leadership: “I Want To Be Like That”

Leadership: “I Want To Be Like That”


As a golfer, who would you want managing your golf club?

For example someone like Peter Dawson CEO of St Andrew’s, The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, or someone more like Chevy Chase of the Bushwood Country Club?

If you were setting out to establish a great career in Golf Club Management, who would you choose to model yourself on? Who would you want to follow and learn from?

Playing a successful round of golf can be a useful metaphor for being a successful leader. Like golfers, managers must frequently match the tools they have at their disposal with the particular context in which they find themselves:

  •       For golfers, tools comprise clubs and shot execution
  •       For managers, their tools are knowledge, behaviour, actions and decision making

What have golf and management got in common?

All golfers have a selection of clubs available to them. For example. woods, irons and putters. But these “tools” are not enough to guarantee success. Factors such as the lie of the ball, reading the green, wind, distance, and importantly, the golfer’s own level of competence, must also be considered before choosing which club to use.

The trick is in selecting the right club appropriate to the situation. To do this, the golfer must draw on their own knowledge, skills and experience. Smart golfers often seek and rely on the advice of their caddy but, ultimately, they have to play the shot.

Does just having the full 14 clubs in your bag automatically make you a good golfer?

Of course not. It’s much more than that. Obviously some golfers are better than others. So what does makes a great golfer? Well, it’s things like:

  •       Natural ability, this helps but it’s not the only thing;
  •       Training & the amount of practice you put in;
  •       Patience, self-discipline and analysis, persistence, decision making, and importantly;
  •       Two nagging questions:
    • What have I done and what have I got to do to be the best that I can, and
    • How did I contribute to the success or failure of each shot?

Now, what about leaders and managers?

Are leaders born or can they be made? Yes, you have to be borne to be a leader, but many of the world’s leaders have been dead for centuries and still have many followers and adherents.

manager leadership

So, where exactly does leadership start?

Well, not surprisingly, it starts with leading yourself. It starts with your plan for yourself. Managers can have more than a full bag of clubs available to them and still be poor managers. It’s not just what you know that counts. It’s what you know and do, and how you behave, that matters – very much like golf.

Many people think of behaviour as something that just happens, the fact is that it can (and should) be controlled – again it sounds a bit like the golf pro talking here.  A leader should be able to select a mode/model of behaviour, or leadership style, in just the same way a golfer selects a club.

Of course, the skill comes not just in using the leadership style, but knowing when best to use it; being able to use these styles is no good if they are applied in the wrong context. For instance, a leader might find that an open, democratic style of management is highly effective most of the time. But when workload suddenly increases, or in a time of crises, a more coercive style is needed.

As a leader, it may be necessary for you to change your style several times a day depending on what is going on around you or who you are dealing with. It is therefore important that you familiarise yourself with all styles of management and how best to use them. There are over 13,000 books on leadership, management and business published each year.

Based on all this available knowledge, not to mention the 20,000 or so years of human enterprise and civilization, you’d reckon we would know all there is to know about leadership. But, no, it’s an evolving process and we’re still learning.

leading a meeting

So here I’ll add my 2 penny’s worth in just what I think about Leadership

  • You can only lead yourself; other people choose to follow you.  It’s the example or these days “the Band” you provide that people choose to follow.
  • People will choose to follow both functional and dysfunctional behaviour, but, functional people won’t follow dysfunctional people. Whereas dysfunctional behaviour attracts dysfunctional behaviour.  Question –  think about how functional is the behaviour you display then, equate that to a golf swing.  For example, Greg Norman has a functional golf swing. Harry the Hacker has a dysfunctional golf swing. Which one produces better results and which one do functional golfers want to model their swing on?
  • Whilst all leadership is situational – just like a shot selection in golf, overall there are two very powerful styles that attract and energise people:
    1. Transformational leadership – that is, assisting people to grow into the person they are capable of being; helping them fully develop themselves and their talents; and,
    2. Servant leadership –  that is working very hard to make it as easy as possible for people to work for you.
  • The main difference between leadership and management is how they achieve the required results:
    • Managers tend to just focus on achieving their required results while,
    • Leaders tend to care for the people who are achieving the required results for them

And my last point here on Leadership is:
– Whilst every manager needs to be a leader, not all leaders are managers. Leaders can be found everywhere – often not in the formal hierarchy of an organisation.

So then, what are some of the better leadership behaviours to model? Well my list would include:

  • Integrity and honesty
  • Trustworthiness
  • Humility
  • Dominant without being domineering
  • Communication
  • Respectful
  • Competence
  • Experienced based/tested confidence
  • Assertive not aggressive
  • Fair and consistent
  • Self-awareness and accountable
  • Resilient and optimistic
  • Generous and acknowledging
  • Selfless
  • Passionate and persistent
  • Decision maker
  • Hardworking but balanced; and
  • Understand how and when to use authority and power Each of these is an acquired value or behaviour.

Make yourself attractive to people – the more you model what people want the more they will want to follow you.

Each day ask yourself:

  • Why would my people want to be led by me, and
  • Have I set them up to succeed?

“When the best leader’s work is done, the people say ‘we did it ourselves'” (Lau Tzu).

Leadership is not about “guts and glory” it’s about helping people become the full person they are capable of being, particularly by modelling  what that looks like – be the example people want to follow.

To finish on a Caddyschack note and, according to Ty Webb:

There’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.

And, as you develop your leadership expertise, be a bit like Thomas Jefferson who famously said:

“I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work the luckier I get.”

NOTE: CAL has a range of Leadership programs as online & workshop short courses as well as the Diploma of Management.

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