Surprising as it may seem, there are similarities between playing golf and managing a business.
On closer inspection, the golfer and the manager both face similar challenges: complex information processing, definition of objectives and strategy, choice of appropriate instruments, management of unforeseen events, openness to change…
Let us look at some interesting bridges.
Inventory of available resources
Before starting a round, the golfer checks his or her equipment, cleans it if necessary, and makes sure he or she has the right clubs.
The manager consults his/her strategic plan, dashboards and takes stock of his/her resources.
Diagnosis of the problem / goal
The golfer knows his/her course perfectly or is just discovering it. In this case, he/she will take the time to study the map, the scorecard or even the video of the course.
The manager knows his or her market perfectly or is looking to conquer new ones. He/she makes sure that he/she has all the necessary information and resources to avoid pitfalls.
Analysis of the environment
The golfer observes the environment. The direction of the wind, its strength, trees in play, thick rough, bunkers on the fairway or around the green…which allows him/her to determine how he/she will play, using which club.
The manager knows his/her competitors. He/she knows the legislation in force and has the latest figures concerning his/her market at hand.
The mental aspect
The practice of golf and management also requires indispensable mental dispositions. Self-confidence, assurance, concentration, analytical skills, stress management and the ability to stand back are key skills for success in both areas.
As golf is an individual sport, the golfer is alone in assuming responsibility for his/her mistakes. The same is true for the manager: although his or her job involves managing a team, the responsibility lies solely with him or her. He/she is responsible for his/her decisions and actions. As such, he/she must show courage, determination and even creativity to achieve his/her objectives.
Golf can also be a powerful team management tool. This sport has a certain propensity to reveal personalities. On the course or even at the driving range, there is no hiding. Resilience in the face of failure, mutual aid (to look for a lost ball), perseverance, leadership… the masks quickly fall off, to make room for the true nature of the individuals.
This individual sport then becomes the best test of a team’s strength!
A sport where failures can outnumber successes, undoubtedly allows one to test one’s self-confidence and consequently one’s ability to react in adversity.
In this respect, the “recipes” used by golfers to regain confidence in difficult moments can be perfectly adapted to the business world:
The implementation of a personal routine, both physical and mental.
Careful preparation of each case/event,
the ability to overcome failures by obliterating negative experiences
focusing on one’s strengths…
…are all tools at the disposal of every manager, to manage stressful or unexpected situations.
As a golfer, it may seem complicated to have a “managerial” vision of your sport. On the other hand, having a “sporting” approach to management, inspired by golf, can be innovative and useful.
The Anglo-Saxons have understood, many contracts are signed (or not) during a round of golf!
The same applies to seminars, team-building and other management committees.
What is valid on one side of the Atlantic and the English Channel must surely be valid on the other…