Playing Styles and Leadership Styles

Many golfers take up the game, in part, because it is known as the sport of business people – it is an especially good means of networking and developing relationships, so is there a commonality between the way people play the game and the way they behave at work – our research and observation shows that there is:

There are six main ‘styles’ of playing golf with a corresponding leadership style – the 6Cs of Golf and Leadership Style.
By ‘style’, I do not mean to refer to an individual’s personality or their innate character as though this were true. I am, instead, referring to the way in which you perform at your best and most naturally – which may represent your true personality – best to ask your spouse or a close friend who knows you in many other situations as well.

We’ll consider each of the styles in turn, pointing out the dominant characteristics displayed and consider a few well known players and business leaders who fit each style. Your job is to identify your own style amongst these six – finding the one which most accurately matches your approach to the game of golf, and your approach to leadership. This isn’t about choosing the style you think that you ‘should’ have, or would like to have. This is about understanding where you are now, and knowing that if you play in this style, or lead with this style, it will be the most comfortable. Later you can consider how to compensate for the weaknesses in your own game.

The Conquerer
On the golf course, this player dominates. Blasting a drive as far as possible brings great joy. The conquerer plays to shorten every hole and every shot – going for broke every time. Often an exhibitionist player and like to brag about their prowess.

Long carries over water whet the conquerers appetite – long par 5’s with a copse on the dogleg right to over-fly bring pulses of energy and make the endorphins flow.

As a leader, the conquerer revels in adversity and challenge. The more impossible others consider the position, the more the conquerer defies the odds. They want results, and they want them now. Excuses will bring wrath, and success will bring a new challenge. Seldom satisfied with the result, it can always be better.

Golf players who are conquerers include: Greg Norman, Bubba Watson, Arnold Palmer, Sam Sneed
Famous leader conquerers include: Margaret Thatcher, George W. Bush, Carly Fiorina, Lee Ka Shing, John Chambers, Michael Dell, David Johnson

The Conjuror
These golfers find excitement in difficult lies, thoroughly enjoy being tested in the rough, or an impossible shot between the trees. They excel in the bunker, and become easily bored with routine fairway shots. They gather their wits before a troublesome shot and have marvellous imagination which they are very capable of transferring directly into their game. About half of the conjurors like to show-off, whilst the other, quieter half, like to core well.

The conjuror leader triumphs over adversity again and again. Seemingly intent on making their own lives difficult and forever deliberately putting themselves and their teams into new challenges.

Golf player conjurors include: Seve Balesteros, Tom Watson, Phil Micelson

Conjuror leaders include: Herb Kelleher, Hank Greenberg, Michael Eisner

The Craftsman

The clear headed technical player, deeply aware of their swing. Knowing their game intimately. These golfers, rehearse and practice even during a round – working on particular aspects of their game that needs attention.

This player excels when tinkering with the minutai details of how to play a particular shot. These players prefer a low stress game, hitting the fairway just right, and onto the green all day will suit them just fine. Quiet and concentrate more on scoring than exhibition, these are solid players and maintain a consistent game.

The Craftsman leader similarly likes a smooth-running business where they can constantly and continuously improve aspects of their business in incremental steps.

Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Ben Crane, Charles Howell III

Gordone Bethune, Andy Grove, Sandy Weill

The Cavalier

The consummate performer – the true exhibitionist of the game, these players like to shape their shots as much as possible and work the ball towards the target. How the shot, and they, look is important. This is the player who says “watch this“ as they carve a beautiful shot around a tree and over the water onto the green. Others do this occasionally, with luck, but these players thrive on it. They like to wow the crowd and fellow players and are the shot-makers of the game.

The Cavalier leader is the ‘show-offs’ of the leadership world – not necessarily egotistically, but because it motivates them. Often, they will stun the audience with acts of derring-do and controversial behaviours. These leaders enjoy the limelight and are more frequently in the press.

Cavalier golfers include: Lee Trevino, Corey Pravin and Chi Chi Rodriguez

Cavalier leaders include: Richard Branson, Ken Lay, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

The Conductor
These are the players who pull the others together as much as play for themselves. Often, the unsung heroes of the regular round with friends, these players organise, cajole and hustle. More concerned for everyone’s enjoyment than just their own, they thrive on playing with others. Taking part is more important than winning, they can glory in other’s success. Few of the world’s top golfers fit this style, yet without them, the amateur game and local competitions would not exist for long. Disciplined and organised, these players like to keep accurate scores and seldom show-off.

Most leaders would like to be considered as conductors, concentrating their efforts on bringing the symphony together in perfect harmony towards a particular goal. These leaders empower others and seldom take centre-stage in public view (like an orchestral conductor, they have their back to the audience and their guidance focused on their team.)

Players who are conductors include: Tony Jacklin, Colin Montgomerie
Leaders: Charles Heimbold, Carol Bartz, Elizabeth Dole, Ralph Larsen, Bill Marriot

The Chess player
These are the strategists of the game. These players plot their way around a course from point a to point b to point c. Positional golf is their forte and they are content to hit fairways and greens and two-put all day with an occasional birdie. They know that consistent, planned performance will win most of the time against all other styles. The Chess player gets the most from their game when they are thinking clearly, and using their minds throughout the round. Nothing flashy about their game for the most part, these players are good in all aspects of each hole and tend to strike the ball cleanly and well. These are the scorers of the game – they may appear to showing-off but that is due to their considerable skill and focus.

All leaders would like to consider themselves to be chess players, understanding the ‘art of war’ and the plethora of books on strategic management. But that’s just it, the vast majority of strategists are managers, not leaders (except by title). These leaders understand the environment, the context, the shifting positions of the competition and play a solid game along known successful routes, not too greedy and with contingencies for rough times. They understand foremost, who they are and what drives them, secondly they know their people and leverage their strengths and deploy all their resources to best effect.

Golfing chess players include: Ben Hogan, Bernard Langer, David Toms and Tiger Woods (an ex-conquerer turned strategist)
Leadership chess players are most exemplified by Jack Welch, Walter Shipley, Howard Schultz, Gordon Bethune, Tony Blair

Each of us in reality possess aspects of each of these styles in our game and in our leadership. Underneath the situational style we may have developed though, lies a core style that suits us best. A style in which we are truly ‘playing with ourselves’ – a place where we are at ease with our game, and feel confident that we will achieve what we set out to achieve. Knowing your pre-disposition for a preferred style means that you know where, when the pressure is on, you are going to play naturally and with least effort. Knowing yourself and trusting in the strengths of a particular style will enable you to actively reduce your golf score and pro-actively lead your people.

/* The design of this CSS style declaration is copyright David Petherick, Digital Biographer, 2007, but is free to copy as long as this copyright notice remains intact. You should also inform David Petherick with a brief message showing where you are using it – email – Ecademy ID:101560. Also, whisper the words “Ecademy helped me make this make sense…“. You can thank David with payments at – */ .subtitle { font-family: Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 100%; line-height: 110%; font-weight: bold;margin: 20px 200px 6px 0px; color: #1D183D;}.nifty { color: #3D3D3D; font-family:Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, sans-serif; font-size:80%; margin: 20px 120px 0px 0px; line-height:110%;}.boxC { background-image: url(;background-position: top right;background-repeat: no-repeat;background-color: #ffffff; border: 1px solid #000033; padding-left: 40px; margin-bottom: 18px; background-color: #FFFFFF;}

Golf is a movement towards a goal… continued

So, where were we, oh yes, “Golf is a movement toward a goal” . What is your goal? The trouble with golf is that it is simple yet so amazingly complex. You might have a goal to reduce your handicap, play in the 70’s, win a tournament, beat your best buddy, win the Masters, drive the longest distance, get a hole-in-one. Whatever that goal is, we need to be absolutely clear about what it is.

To make this goal tangible, we need to describe it in our five senses: see, hear, touch, smell and taste. For those few people who say “I’ll just know it when it happens” – yes you probably will, but that doesn’t help you achieve it. For the committed Christian, that’s not a problem, because it won’t be you doing it, so think of this as preparing for precision praying.
What is your goal?
What will you see when you have achieved it?
What will you hear when you achieve it?
What will you feel when you achieve it?
Where is that feeling? Can you touch that feeling now?
What will you taste when you achieve it?
What will you smell when you achieve it?

Don’t over-worry if you don’t get answers to the last two – but maybe it’s the taste of champagne or the smell of rose petals cascading down from the ceiling at the celebratory dinner (you get it now?)

Now, there is an important distinction to make here. Your goal MUST be a positive goal. Let’s go though this because it’s at the heart of transforming your game and it is the essence of what every mental game coach, sports psychologist and peak performance consultant is trying to help you do.

So please, pay some attention now. Where where you? The TV just got switched on, or you can smell dinner cooking. Wherever you may have been, I hope you are coming back to me.
Now, whatever you do, “don’t think of a blue tree!”

What just happened? You thought of a blue tree didn’t you! I know you did, because that’s how your mind works.
Your unconscious mind cannot process negatives – it only receives commands. Your unconscious mind does not screen thoughts – that’s the job of your conscious mind. Your unconscious can not, not do something!

Basically, and this is not meant to be a scientific explanation of the way the brain operates, rather a much simplified understanding, when you read “Don’t think of a blue tree”, in order for you to consciously not think about it, your unconscious had to provide an image of a blue tree to your conscious mind to not think about! What this means is that your actions and behaviours will be the opposite of your desire if your present it with a negative.

As you settle in for your tee shot, you wiggle, you waggle and look up the fairway and think “I must not send the ball into those trees on the right”, guess what. Your ball goes straight for those trees. Why, because you just told yourself (not) to do it. “Whatever I do, I must not put the ball in the water”…. splash! “I must remember not to bend my arm at the elbow during the swing”… hook, topped, sliced – all depending on just when you did bend your elbow.

This inability to process negatives is why, for example, smokers trying to quit, fail. “don’t have a cigarette, don’t have a cigarette, DON”T HAVE A CIGARETTE!” as they slide one out of the pack, light up and inhale deeply (and with great satisfaction mixed with self-loathing and revulsion). I know, I’ve been there.

Dieters, have the same problem. “Don’t eat fatty foods, don’t open the fridge, don’t eat chocolate”.

An exercise in vision

Let’s begin with an exercise:
Read through these instructions and then take 5 to 10 minutes on this activity.
Get yourself comfortable, in a chair, or lying down or for some, sitting in the lotus position or any position that is comfortable for you.

Take several slow, deep breaths. Concentrate at first on your breathing, inhale for 4, hold the air in your lungs for 5 and then exhale for 6 or 7, keep repeating this. Then close your eyes and whilst continuing to take deep, slow breaths, focus on your heart and slowing the beat along with your breathing. Continue this until you feel relaxed and at ease. You’ll be able to continue hearing everything that is going on around you and can safely ignore those distractions, knowing that if anything needs your attention, it will make itself known. So now, as you focus on your slowing heart beat and deep, slow breaths, you feel at ease and relaxed.

as you become gently relaxed, you’ll find that you’re mind can develop clear pictures, so place yourself on your favourite golf course on your first tee, you know this tee well, you know the fairway, you can see the lie of the land, the trees, the bunkers, the green the pin. Notice how you can change the weather to be anything you like, perhaps  a beautiful sunny day, one of those days when it’s so great to be alive and out on the course, playing your favourite sport. with your best friends with you and a feeling of complete ease and tranquility. Oh, it’s good to be alive. and now as you prepare for that first drive, you can feel the wieght of your chosen club. You know exactly where you want to put this ball, you align your self with your target and allow your beautiful swing to make perfect contact with the ball and watch the flight exactly how you planned it, soaring through the air perfectly on target. The ball drops to the fairway, exactly where you want it, ideally placed for the second shot up to the green for a birdie 3. You collect your tee from the ground, and turn to look at your friends as they continue to stare in admiration of your drive. They break from their reverie to offer their words of admiration, ‘great drive’, ‘nicely done’, whoa, fantastic. You accept their compliments with grace, smiling inwardly and treasuring the feeling.

Take this feeling, and stroll around the whole course. What do you see each time you take that perfect swing, and ht that perfect shot. What do you feel? Where is that feeling, physically within your body? Is it large or small, moving or static? What word do you use to describe that feeling? What do you hear when you make that shot? The swish of the club, the ‘thwack’ of the club on the ball? The admiring comments and expressions from your buddies, your own inward or outward yell of triumph? What do you taste or smell? Some people have the ‘sweet smell of success’ or the ‘taste of victory’ what is it for you?

At first, use this technique to help you develop your visioning of your goals, take it gradually, just practice using your ‘mind’s eye’. We will use this technique more and more in the programme.

So, how do you feel? If you’ve just completed the exercise above, you’ll have a lingering positive feeling. Whatever you want to call that feeling is OK, this is entirely for you. And if you teach anyone else to do this, and I wholly and entirely and completely support you in doing so – for anybody to achieve anything – it doesn’t have to be golf – and when you do teach someone else, let them call their feeling whatever they want to. This word, as you’ll discover, becomes a personal trigger.

Now, why would you want to do this?

Well, why do you want to do anything?

How visioning wins tournaments

Nick Faldo spent a couple of years restructuring his swing with his coach David Leadbetter. He struggled with the changes, but had accepted that things were allowed to get worse before they got better. By the time he entered the British Open at Muirfield in 1987, things hadn’t been seen to be much improved.
The evening before the tournament began, Nick walked to the 18th green at 10 in the evening – still with daylight on this warm Scottish summer evening. He stood there staring at the large yellow scoreboard. He imagined that it was late Sunday afternoon and the stands were filled with spectators. He saw the name Faldo on top of the leader board. He stared at it and smiled and knew he was home. Nick spent several minutes seeing himself the winner, sensing deeply the thrill of winning the British Open.
Faldo won the tournament. This is what vision is all about, not just seeing the end, but seeing the end at the end, with your own eyes, with your own ears, feelings, smells, tastes. You see the target, now step into the future having achieved your goal.

Golf is a movement towards a goal

When I begin discussing goals in our Mind Advantage workouts , most of the participants start with a belief that the goal in Golf is obvious. For some people this is true, though are the goals really that obvious? So I ask everyone to write down their top three golfing goals and back come a range of responses.

Most people also add a qualifying statement – such as “it depends on who I’m playing with”, or “it depends on the course” and so on. After a few moments discussing the many and various goals that people have in regard to their golf – it quickly becomes apparent that the goals are not so obvious after all.

Achieving our goals is a very fulfilling and satisfying achievement. Once achieved, a goal provides us with a sense of accomplishment and our confidence in ourselves grows.

It’s not just in golf either. Having clearly defined goals for yourself places you in the top 5% of the population in terms of having the highest probability of getting what you want from life.

A study in a US College several years ago aimed at finding out how many students had written goals and if this had had any direct influence on what they accomplished in their lives. The researchers asked students of a graduating class about their written goals and then followed up later in life to find out what had happened.

The study showed that a mere 3% of the graduating class had clearly defined and written goals. This is quite surprising but when the researchers followed up later in life they discovered something really quite astounding: Those who had written clearly defined goals were worth, in financial terms, as much as the remaining 97% combined! Let me just paraphrase that to make sure you understand. Those individuals who, at college graduation, had written their own clearly defined goals were 33 times financially better off than their peers who had not written their goals!

If this doesn’t fire you up I don’t know what will.

There are many other studies that causally link goal setting with successful achievement – from goal setting in the classroom to success in academic grades, from goal setting in career aspirations to successful achievement, from goal setting in business to success in business.

So what do you want in your golf? What do you want to achieve in your career? life?

If you have never established clearly defined goals for yourself, and written them down, you are not alone. What we will be doing in this session, is helping you translate your desires, your wants and wishes into written form and design an action plan to achieve them. Best of all – your goals are going to be fulfilled!

So why don’t most people achieve their goals. Well, not setting any to start with is a pretty sure fire route to not achieving them. Yet many people once set goals for themselves – many were encouraged at school, and thankfully, many more continue to do so now than before.

Essentially, like everything else we will be discussing here, it’s all in the mind. Frequently, when I ask participants on our programmes why they stopped setting goals, they reply that they ‘tried it’ but they didn’t succeed. And when hey continued with the activity and continued not to achieve the goals, after a while they ‘just sort of gave up’. You’ll realise of course, that if you do something repeatedly, and repeatedly get no success – your desire to continue with the activity diminishes rapidly. So, your mind does you a favour by not setting any more goals. That way, you won’t be disappointed and you can avoid the discomfort of not achieving them.

“I don’t like to get my hopes dashed.” “I can’t have my dreams shattered.” “I don’t want to be seen as a goal seeker.” “It’s too painful to not achieve them.” These are just some examples of ‘reasons’ we hear. So the safest, kindest thing to do to ourselves is stop setting goals. So we do. No goals=no pain.

“Goals don’t achieve anything!” Several participants have told me. And they are ABSOLUTELY CORRECT! Goals and the setting of goals does NOTHING!

Why oh why don’t we act on our goals? Don’t fret, you are not alone if you haven’t acted on achieving your goals. So, what we need is a goal setting process that includes the action plan – this we will discuss in detail in the session on Outcome-based coaching. Before that, in the session on Motivation, we’ll add that essential ingredient to achievement as well.