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why use golf eguide

why use golf eguide

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Published by John Kenworthy
Using the game of golf to develop leadership is based on sound reasoning.
Using the game of golf to develop leadership is based on sound reasoning.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: John Kenworthy on Aug 25, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/14/2009

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 Why use golf to develop leadership?
GAINMORE™ Leadership e-guide
By Dr John Kenworthy
 
The connection between golf and leadership
There’s a surprising similarity between playing the game of golf and leadership.Once the analogies are made clear to you, you’ll wonder perhaps why you didn’t seeit before. By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll know the majorconnections and feel compelled to find out more.35% of registered golfers in the UK are senior managers, professionals orexecutives , according to Mintel. This rises to 43.3% of London Golfers. And 12.8%of all golfers in the UK are senior managers, executives or professionals - that’sabout 1.8 million golfers are senior managers, executives and professionals in theUK alone! (Source: GB TGI, BMRB Quarter 4 2006/Mintel) 44% of senior managersexecutives and professionals in the UK have played, do play or would like to playgolf. (Source: BMRB/Mintel) Add another 1.4 million managers (Source: GB TGI,BMRB Quarter 4 2006/Mintel) and you realise just how big a sport golf has become- and it id predominantly ABC1 who play the game, and still predominantly male -83%!In part, business leaders, particularly those with some marketing or sales roledeliberately play golf to network with prospects and clients. In part there’s certainlysome social status about being a golf club member, and for sure, in part there the ‘coincidence’ of playing golf and being a business leader.What Mintel’s research doesn’t highlight though is that there’s more to it than that.The characteristics of those who play golf and those who are business leaders showsconsiderable similarities. Let’s take, for example, the desire to score well (even win)a round of golf. To be concerned about one’s personal performance and strive toimprove it relates to a strong personal ‘Achievement Orientation’. I want to do wellbecause I want to do well.There are differences too, and important ones. On the golf course, the golfer isplaying against the course. It is one of very few sports where the play of others hasno effect on the golfer’s performance at all… unless he (and it is predominantly still ‘he’) allows it (the closest similar sport is downhill skiing). This is not the case forthe majority of business leaders who’d personal performance can be impacted bythe performance of others. So the golf course is the place where a player canassuredly adopt the attitude, it’s MY performance and only MY performance thatmatters and only their actions change the result. This suggests the desire forcontrol - or Directiveness.Some of the reasons golfers choose to play the game shows that 76% of them playfor social reasons (Source: GMI/Mintel) - this demonstrates a desire, if not ability, inthe competencies of influence and communication.
 
So why use golf to develop leadership?
It seems that the game of golf attracts business leaders more than other groups- & perhaps the conclusions above suggest why. So it became increasingly obviousto our team that golf could be both an attractive idea for development within thisgroup, and that the game of golf itself could be deliberately used to develop thecompetencies and behaviours associated with great leadership.Indeed, many of our clients confirm the attraction of golf for our seniormanagement training programmes by requesting training to take place at golf clubs,so the team can play golf after the training course. Albeit, not everyone on theprogrammes did play golf, the senior managers and board members invariably did.Our research into using simulations has shown that given a truly safe environmentto practice the tools and techniques of leadership and management, participants notonly learn more (23% greater learning) than using more traditional methods likecase studies, they enjoy it more (17% greater) and demonstrate greater transfer of new behaviours to the workplace (26% greater transfer). Not only this, but studiesin societies where females are considered disadvantaged in management showed agreater improvement in demonstrated management and leadership competenciesafter a simulation based programme than a traditional programme over their malecounterparts 16% greater improvement in demonstrated competencies. The key tothe success of using simulations is that they provide a realistic, safe environment topractice the tools, techniques and behaviours of great leadership (Source:Kenworthy 2005)
Is golf a safe, realistic environment?
The great thing about golf is that it is one of the very few activities that provides agenuinely level-playing field - through the well-established handicapping system. Itmay not be perfect, but it’s very close. This means that a scratch golfer competesfairly with a complete beginner. There are also rules within which the game must beplayed - these represent the constraints of doing business. There are establishedgame rules that encourage pairs or foursomes to work together, and there are rulesto foster individual competition -sometimes in business we want our leaders to beentrepreneurial and ‘go-getters’ - leading by example, at other times, we want themto be team leaders, or team players. Caddies, provide a perfect metaphor forcoaches and mentors. The course itself provides a varied environment, shiftingaccording to things beyond the control of the player, but observable by them. Thehole provides a target, the course provides for a strategic plan to achieve the realgoal. The points scored can directly relate to revenue or profit. The clubs and ballsare resources - even the golf pro can be a consultant resource.The game of golf provides a fantastic platform to learn leadership - its safe and fair,it’s as realistic as you need it to be and it’s fun!

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