I don’t golf.
At least not by any measurable standard.
I have walked around a golf course flailing at small white balls with a metal stick but I would hardly classify myself as a golfer.
I do have friends who actually know how to golf. They tell me that the key to great golf is mastering the short game. The big drives are impressive but they won’t make the difference in your score at the end of the day.
Out of curiosity, I turned to Google.
How to improve your short game returns 1,580,000 results. How to improve your drive returns 2,550,000 results. If the short game is the key, why isn’t it more popular?
My unscientific hypothesis is that driving is:
E. Good for the ego.
As further evidence, the most popular drivers have names like:
Some leaders go for the show. They want to be a power hitter. Take charge. Get the attention. Take on the toughest projects. Make a name for themselves. Show everyone what they can do.
Problem is, they are one-dimensional. They may look good on the tee but eventually the lack of a short game will sink their score.
Every leader needs a good short game.
I think of this as the small, daily, less noticeable actions that lead to long-term success and the attention to details that keeps the team on track.
- Showing appreciation
- Investing in teachable moments
- Offering support
- Setting clear priorities
- Asking good questions
- Observing the process
- Listening to understand
- Clarifying expectations
- Preparing for change
- Checking in
The short game requires a different set of skills. One cannot swing the putter like a driver and expect a good result. Well, unless you’re me of course. When a leader is out of balance in this way the outcome looks very similar.
Every position on the golf course demands the right choice of club, applying the proper swing, the right level of energy and the proper focus.
A professional golfer spends thousands of hours mastering the short game because they know that to be a complete player they must learn to apply both power and finesse.
Here’s the long and the short of it, (I couldn’t resist). Effective leadership requires patience, preparation, and practice if we are to apply the right approach wherever we are on the course. When we diversify our leadership skills we improve our opportunity for success.
“It took me seventeen years to get three thousand hits in baseball. It took one afternoon on the golf course.” – Hank Aaron
So, how’s your short game?