Category Archives: tiger woods
In order to become better leaders, people typically focus on improving their weaknesses. But now, research is showing that developing your strengths is actually more effective.
John Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, Robert Sherwin, Jr., and Barbara Steel—authors of the book How To Be Exceptional: Drive Leadership Success By Magnifying Your Strengths—believe that working on strengths dramatically improves one’s leadership skills and leads to more successful business interactions.
“If you concur that leadership is a set of skills and not a body of knowledge or a personality type, then learning leadership skills probably has much in common with learning any other set of skills,” they say.
Here are some tips they provided on improving leadership strengths:
1. Have humility. The authors believe that humility, or humbleness, is a difficult strength to improve on, but will make a good leader in the long term if mastered.
“It is difficult to come up with a plan for improving humility, and often leaders would write something like ‘just be more humble’ or ‘don’t be arrogant.’” Try exercises in and outside of the workplace where whenever someone describes a scenario or situation they’re in, you put yourself in their position. Do this over and over, and being able to relate to others will come more naturally.
2. Identify the behaviors that should be developed. “We propose a model with three important filters for identifying a behavior that could be expanded for strength. We label this the CPO model, where C stands for ‘competence (how effective you already are with this skill),’ P for ‘passion,’ and O for ‘organization need.’”
3. Ask for feedback. This will allow you to let your guard down and embrace open-mindedness. Good leaders should always welcome suggestions.
“A key competency of any successful leader is the ability to continually gather, accept and respond to feedback. Data collected from thousands of respondents on the coaching behavior of their boss confirm that asking for feedback is the behavior on which these leaders received the lowest single scores. Yet, when we look at the willingness of a leader to ask others for feedback, we find that there is an excellent overall leadership effectiveness.”
4. Take a behavior modeling class. An extremely powerful formal development process for teaching many leadership skills is behavior modeling. This technology utilizes video clips that show managers handling difficult situations well. The course content explains the key action steps that were being followed. The bulk of the learning process involves participants practicing and rehearsing these skills with one another.
5. Try cross-training. Once you’ve developed a particular skill to a high degree of competency, it’s time to look at sharpening other skills which are complementary to the primary strength, such as communication or technical abilities.
“When athletes aspire to become more than just casual participants in a sport, they often turn to cross-training. Aspiring runners take up cycling, swimming, and weightlifting. Our favorite example is a football coach who scheduled several of the lumbering lineman to take ballet lessons in an attempt to make them more conscious of their footwork and acquire more agility.”
After falling off the performance roadmap for a few years, Tiger Woods has recently re-established himself as one of the top players in the world. Not only is Tiger positioned to make history and become known as the greatest golfer of all time, but it also appears he is leading others to improve their game, as well. Here are 5 things business leaders can learn from Tiger:
1. Face Pressure Head On
When recently asked about how much pressure he was under for an upcoming Major, Tiger responded by saying, “The same. The same pressure as any other tournament, and the same pressure every other player faces.” Pressure is self-imposed and can serve as quite a distraction if not dealt with properly. The most effective method for working through pressure is to acknowledge that the stakes are high and then move on. Force yourself to focus on what you can control, rather than allowing your mind to fixate on what could go wrong or on what the competition is doing. Jim Weddle, Managing Partner of Edward Jones, knows all too well about dealing with pressure. In 2011, in the face of a tough economic climate in which most brokerage firms struggled to survive, Weddle lead the company to one of its most successful years in the firm’s history. Weddle exemplified an unwavering focus on working with long-term individual investors and emphasizing quality rather than allowing his mind to waver on the uncertainty of the market. If you find yourself focusing on the potential obstacles to your success, commit to replacing those thoughts within 60 seconds with an idea for one thing you can do to put yourself in the best possible position to move forward.
2. Learn to Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Self-confidence is the number one variable for positively impacting performance in the entire field of sport psychology. This principle extends to the business world, as well. Tiger is often heard giving himself credit for his “strong iron play” or having his “focus on-target.” Learning to give oneself credit is an extremely effective method of increasing self-confidence and, hence, improving the likelihood for strong future performances. Get in the habit of writing down at least three successes at the end of each day. Doing so will have a compounding effect on self-confidence, thus allowing you to bounce back from tough times more quickly.
3. Emphasize Preparation
Prior to his dreadful Thanksgiving disaster, Tiger was definitely the hardest working and the most prepared player on the tour. I was lucky enough to have access to his training plan, as well as that of 4 other tour players with whom I was working. Tiger was out-preparing 3 of the 4 players by more than 30%, and the forth he was outdoing by a whopping 50%. After working through some personal distraction, Tiger is back on track with his mental and physical preparation. George Paz, CEO of the “mega-pharm” company, Express Scripts, lead his team to unprecedented market cap growth by emphasizing industriousness. In an interview discussing the changes within the company, Paz referred to his task of ensuring that the quality of the level of service provided to clients remains strong as “my 8-to-5 job.” He went on to say, “My 5-to-8 job is what’s the next move?” Work ethic and preparation will go a long way at determining the final score on the scoreboard. It is a fairly straightforward equation: if the work ethic is consistently there, the results are sure to follow. Are you outworking your competition?
When Tiger was recently asked if he was surprised at his reemerging dominance, he simply answered, “No. Next question.” An old saying in sport states: “Positive thinking doesn’t always work…negative thinking does.” When you believe in yourself, you significantly increase your ability to achieve greatness. Easier said than done, yet replacing negative and self-doubting thoughts with affirmative thoughts will have a significant impact on your success. Consider adopting a mental training program to train your brain toward positive thinking.
5. Be Accountable without Deprecation
Tiger has learned to be accountable for mistakes without internalizing failures. Take for example his comment about losing a late lead in the US Open: “I had the lead, and I lost it. I’m not happy about it, but it happens.” Great athletes and leaders alike have a tendency to beat themselves up when they fall short of expectations. Individuals who spend too much time punishing themselves for shortcomings become poised for lowered self-confidence and emotional unrest. Jack Welch, the former CEO of G.E., has been famously quoted stating: “I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as a good a teacher as success.” Welch has used the solutions generated from his mistakes to put himself in a better position than when he started. Learn to own failures without making excuses, and then quickly begin focusing on solutions to increase the probability for improvement. There is no need or benefit in stewing about your shortcomings, so stop doing it.
Tiger Woods is an inspiring example of leadership and dominance in sport, and some of the principles of mental toughness he displays are also found in the most successful business leaders in the world. He has not always been on top, yet his relentless drive serves as a mold for success. Realistically, business leaders are not always going to experience success, and high times are going to be tempered with seemingly brick walls to climb. How these difficulties are handled separates the leaders from the ones who fall behind. Developing a plan to deal with pressure and keep confidence high, while consistently working hard will go a long way at putting you on the leader board in golf, business and life.