Another Ryder Cup competition is history and as usual, the event has not disappointed. The Ryder Cup is a proving ground, squeezing the best performance from the best players in the world. It is also a pressure cooker, exposing weaknesses or lack of focus. And as usual, the Ryder Cup has provided great lessons for leaders- even those who do not play golf. Here are a few of my favorites from this year’s competition.
Comfort with Ambiguity
The Ryder Cup is a match play event. That means heads to head, I win- you lose competition. And while golf is a game of singular performance,
Effective leaders know that even if the situation is win-lose (I take your customers, I get to market before you do, I close the big deal you are chasing) that the more effective focus is on winning. A focus on the other side’s loss is not sustainable and can be in fact a major-league organizational distraction.
I once worked with a CEO of a software company whose initial product created the category (and thereby, competitors). In the early days, his focus on was the vision for his product and the capacity it could enable for customers. But as competitors began to push the market, his focus changed. He took competition as a personal attack and erected “memorials” to those companies in the office lobby. Soon he talked more about beating them than about his vision for his own company. While all the competitors suffered in the tech collapse that followed the dot-com bubble, his company exited early, being acquired by a firm from a related market that had already bought and managed into the ground another competitor.
Survival of the Most Resilient
Another big lesson from Celtic Manor is also the need to adapt to change. After months of planning and strategy on the part of both captains, the weather
Some Things are A Mystery
And lastly, I think leaders can take away one of the hardest lessons of all. Sometimes getting to the core of a problem is just not possible- at least not fast enough to prevent disaster. The Americans left the course on Friday mid day when the rains hit with their tails between their legs. They were bleeding all over the course. But when they resumed play the next day, they were a different squad and ended the first round of matches ahead of the Europeans 6 to 4. But as those matches ended and the new ones began, two very curious things happened.
The American’s play became uninspired and the Europeans caught fire, annihilating the US. When the smoke cleared on the next team matches, The Europeans had all bu
In many ways, this is the toughest and most telling test in leadership. Both Captains showed, in their own ways, that all they could do was remain engaged and look for opportunities. Corey Pavin’s famous stoic style did not prevent him from being everywhere and ensuring that his assistant captains were there to encourage and provide support. Monty on the other hand focused on getting the gallery involved, which, in the end, may have been the “secret ingredient.”
Kudos all around for a wonderfully played competition. Now, the planning can begin all over again for Medinah in 2011.