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Golf provides lessons for leadership in business, politics, life

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Those of us who have played golf know that the big difference between our success and failure at any given time is almost always mental not physical. When athletes of similar talent compete, in any sport, mental competence and expertness (I call it “toughness”) is what separates winners from others. So it is too with senior executives, elected political leaders and military leaders, whose success and failure depends on the same factors. That simply means the thoughtfulness and the ability to exercise the necessary discipline over our behavior, having continual control of our emotions, having and maintaining utmost confidence in our abilities, and possessing the presence of mind to size up the circumstances correctly and decide decisively.

Just as golfers need to learn shot making, positioning, recovery plays and other critical skills, leaders in any field need to master certain competencies which are required for performance that is consistent with winning. As golfers we need to master swing fundamentals, course management, touch, feel (e.g. putting and chipping) and nerves. Leaders need to master business fundamentals, people management, organizational politics, situational feel – oh, and nerves. In both golf and in leadership, we are supposed to know, understand and follow the […]

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