A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Champions Do Things Differently

The following article originally appeared in the May newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, now a part of FMI Corporation.  Reprinted with permission.

There is an amazing similarity between what real champions in both sports and business do, and it is worth some reflection. In the broadest sense, these people and organizations, no matter what their demonstrated competencies and past performance records, strive, not just hope, to get better. They take proactive steps to develop a qualified outside support system that allows them to make candid comparisons, set realistic strategic targets, and develop the specific skills needed. They have extraordinary mental toughness and discipline. They know they can get better; they make the investments to acquire the guidance and coaching; they do the work. They repeat this process.

Since the Masters golf tournament is still fresh in everyone’s memory, it is the perfect event to validate this thesis. Look at the behaviors of the top 10 players in the world rankings, seven of whom were in contention until the very last hole. First, they all have a regular caddy, a person that knows their game well and who helps them figure out where to play those courses that increase their odds of winning and how to win on these courses. The caddy is their strategy consultant.

Each of them also has a swing coach, a person that works and refines the technical dimensions and sequences of the player’s swing. Today the use of video monitors that provide rich and actionable data is a tool most coaches use. However, most don’t advocate a specific system, a turnkey method. Most realize that these players have inherent talent that brought them to this level; it may need further development, refining or tweaking, but rarely does it need a major change. The swing coach is the operations consultant.

Today, all these world-class golfers have personal trainers who work on their strength, stamina and flexibility. Most spend several hours at least five days a week in a disciplined, directed effort to get stronger, more flexible and quicker, so they can increase their clubhead speed and gain distance and therefore a competitive advantage. The personal trainer is the talent and leadership development consultant.

These golfers regularly receive guidance from their caddy, swing coach, and personal trainer; but periodically they also bring in more specialized instructors – coaches to help with putting, the short game, or on mental conditioning. These are the specialty-type consultants like business development, compensation, risk management, succession, or investment banking.

There is a lesson here for businesses: Champions develop great support systems. They help them get to the desired future they envision.