Category Archives: Wellesely
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.
Tauseef Qadri first started exploring the idea of “equitelligence”, or equine-inspired emotional intelligence, while studying management sciences at Loughborough University in the UK. Admittedly, Qadri was not your average management student. A keen horseman who began riding as a toddler and went on to study natural horsemanship under Ingella Larsson, one of the world’s leading “horse whisperers”, he was as familiar with the workings of horses as he was with the workings of human beings.
“I had to do a course on emotional intelligence and how we applied it in our own context. The world I knew was horses, so I thought about how I could apply those concepts to horses. I got a fantastic grade in that thesis, which encouraged me to think about developing those ideas further,” he says.
Natural horsemanship involves communicating with a horse using barely perceptible signals and subtle shifts in body language. It demands that a level of trust be built between the two parties and that they develop a common, non-vocal language. “Horsemanship is about developing an innate understanding of the horse’s perspective of the world. You have these two different worlds and in horsemanship you try to find a symbiosis.”
But many of the key principles in horsemanship can just as easily be applied to human behaviour, particularly when it comes to the workplace, Qadri discovered. After completing his degree, he went to work for Xerox and then did a stint in the financial services industry, which brought him to Dubai in 2006. All the while, he was incubating his ideas on “equitelligence”.
He subsequently developed a two-day intensive leadership programme based on developing emotional intelligence through interaction with horses, which has already proven popular with a number of high-profile corporations. “Usually the most experiential part of emotional intelligence workshops is when you interact face-to-face on a role play basis. But in that kind of context, both you and I know it’s not real. Try telling that to a 1,200-pound animal. With a horse, you have to be absolutely authentic.”
Qadri shared five key leadership skills that he believes can be developed through interactions with horses.
Part of the course involves grooming the horse and learning more about them. “This generates that elusive skill of empathy, which is so important in the workplace,” says Qadri.
Physiologically, and often unconsciously, at this point people will start smiling, their pupils will dilate, they will start salivating and they will get a tingling feeling in their back. “Those are the biological signs of empathy – it means that you are really making a connection. And people seem to have that with horses; that species divide is transcended.”
Horses communicate almost exclusively through body language, but more than 87 per cent of human communication is also purely physical. Participants learn the rudiments of horsemanship, which covers how they direct their energy, how they direct their focus, how they highlight to the horse that they are relaxed and how they increase their energy and transfer that energy to the horse.
Push versus release
Participants are invited to stand in front of their horse and make them walk backwards. “There is a rope connected to the halter and you just wiggle it increasingly vigorously; at a certain stage the horse will understand that he needs to move back. If people struggle with assertiveness, they will never go beyond a light wiggle. The horse will look at them and do nothing. Other people will swing the rope so hard that the horse will feel that jerk and literally run backwards. That’s not what you want either. That’s a reaction, not a response,” says Qadri.
“Similarly, in a board meeting, you should know when to press the accelerator because you are trying to drive a point home, but you should also know when not to because you are going to elicit a reaction and not a response,” says Qadri.
Because they are herd animals that are eager to please, horses will relinquish leadership if they understand what is required of them and think you know what you are doing. If you are inconsistent, they won’t.
The role of recognition
There’s a saying in horsemanship that is all-important: “The pressure will motivate but the release teaches.” Participants must encourage the horse to take some kind of action, but if that action is completed, they must immediately take away the pressure. “You must be able to say to the horse at that point in time, ‘Thank you, you’ve done a great job’. The more you can create that recognition culture, the more a horse will try harder for you,” says Qadri.