Are You a Hole-in-One Leader?

Richard's Hole-in-One

A few weeks ago I shot a hole in one. It was the 14th hole, 147 yards, at TPC Wakefield Plantation. It was a good looking golf shot. I hit it straight at the flag. It landed a few inches in front of the hole and rolled in. Wow. What a thrill. Luckily it was a slow day at the club, so drinks didn’t cost me too much!

So what’s this got to do with leadership?

Well to show that anything can be an analogy for anything else, here goes. In NBA basketball last season, Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns attempted 225 free throws. He was successful 211 times or almost 94%. So far this year, Mike Nugent of the Cincinnati Bengals kicked 10 field goals or 91% of his attempts, including 2 from over 50 yards. Both of these accomplishments were made by throwing or kicking a ball at a target with a greater than 90% success rate. Granted less than 147 yards. However, both these players spend hours practicing to hit the basket or go through the uprights….and they are expected to be successful in a high percentage of times. Even amateurs spend a lot of time practicing these shots.

Now compare that to golf. Tiger Woods, who is right now the number one golfer in the world, has shot a total of 19 in his lifetime. I don’t know of any players who spend hours practicing to get a hole in one. They practice distance and accuracy which can help in shooting a hole-in-one. However practicing the “hole-in-one shot” is not a conscious activity. I have yet to hear a golfer say, “I am working on my hole-in-one shot.”

So, here’s the point. When you think about leading a team to accomplish an objective, are you counting on a hole-in-one in order to be successful? Does everything need to come together perfectly in order for your plan to work? Tiger Woods, in his singles match in the final round of the Ryder Cup, probably played his best game this year. He got a hole in one. He won the match. However he won the match due to his skillful execution and shot making and not because of one lucky shot. Which, by the way, he didn’t even know until he was told.

So here is my take away.

  1. Don’t assume that things will just work out. Optimism by itself is over rated.

  2. Skill and execution are more important than luck. Clarity of objectives and plans, coupled with the right skills, accountability, and follow up increase the chance of success….. and the opportunity for “holes-in-one.”

  3. As a leader, play the odds when making decisions. Some long shots work…. some times. However very few times.
    The odds of shooting a hole-in-one for a professional tour player is 3000 to 1.

  4. Lastly. If you are lucky enough to shoot a hole-in-one then find a modest way to continually brag to everyone by creating an analogy to business.


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