Take A Golf Lesson: Even Tiger Needs A Coach


Editor's Note: The 4-Profit team continues to contribute this month to the "Building Better Business the 4-Profit Way" guest column for CRN with an installment from Chris Winter. 4-Profit provides coaching, peer group and speaking services around leadership, strategy, sales, service, management and marketing.

"My swing is a work in progress and always will be." As stated in his book, "Tiger Woods: How I Play Golf," he said, "Finding a great coach and working my butt off to improve took my game to another level."

For the many business owners we meet struggling to improve their game, we believe that their struggle is similar to Tiger's. It was Tiger who said, "It is how we handle setbacks that defines who we are, what our game can bring and ultimately what our legacy will be." Even Tiger is still determining his legacy.

Whether you are a Tiger fan or not, the level of intensity, course management, training, precision, constant search for minute advantages, and the ability to overcome adversity deserve some level of respect. The course and conditions are new each day. You feel different each day. In our advanced coaching engagements, we draw parallels to these same factors. An experienced coach, especially an industry-specific one, will understand what's possible for your business model. A good coach will be able to match your potential to the goals of sustained growth, risk management, efficiency and strategy -- each a requirement to managing a golf course well.

[Related: 8 Tips To Becoming A Better CEO]

When compared with business, the great game of golf holds many parallels in how athletes and business leaders see the course and receive insight from others. Some look down the fairway and see trouble; a good coach can help you focus on the landing area. A good coach develops with you and remembers your swing and your prior rounds with the goal of constant improvement. Coaching is a relationship. A coach gets to know you.

A good coach should become an integral part of your thought process and decision-making and will be most successful under a strong mutual learning exchange -- thinking about your swing in the off-hours in the same way you do. A consultant, on the other hand, may help fix a point-in-time bump in the road. But a coach comes to understand the continuum of past, present and future, which takes time to develop and then time to be able to enrich the relationship over a much longer term.

On the course or off, leading can be a lonely walk and your level of success often is a matter of you against yourself. Strong leaders must shelve preconceived notions and, yes, sometimes step out of their comfort zone and "break it" time and again, and that can include the very mature step of hiring a talented coach.

Most top CEOs have one or more individual coaches as well as boards of directors and advisers. Presidents use a large team of coaches called a cabinet -- all to help understand what is often too much to know or manage alone. Sustainable success comes down to, in Tiger's words, "how well you know yourself, your ability, your limitations and the confidence you have in your ability to execute under pressure that is mostly self-created."

About 4-Profit:
4-Profit is a highly focused leadership and advisory firm for the IT industry. Chris Winter is a founding principal of 4-Profit and business coach and co-author of "Mastering a Culture of Accountability," (2008) and "Break Points, Where Solution Providers Get Stuck" (reprinted July 2013).