What can managers learn from Tiger Woods’ 5th Masters win?

Tiger Woods may have just completed the greatest comeback in the history of sports. His 5th Green Jacket win at the 83rd Masters has some great management principles worth noting.

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Observing things and learning how they can apply to success and management is something I’ve been doing my entire career. This year’s Masters Tournament has some valuable lessons.

Background

Just a year ago at this time the sports analysts were saying, “Tiger may not win again, and he certainly will not win another major championship.” My, how much things can change in a year.

Tiger had not won a Masters since 2005 and his last Major win was the U.S. Open in 2008. Health issues leading to four back surgeries literally crippled the greatest golfer of our time. Eleven years of mediocre play, recovery after recovery, and challenges we probably don’t even know about would be real reasons for most to question any possibility for major success in Tiger’s future.

It was almost prophetic for Tiger to be awarded the Ben Hogan Award for the “best comeback on the PGA Tour” on the evening before the first day of play in this year’s Masters. It was a sign of things to come, I think.

His win at this year’s Masters was somewhat predictable if you look at the trend of his play in the recent tournaments that are most important on the PGA Tour:

  • 2018 Masters* — T32
  • 2018 U.S. Open*— Missed Cut
  • 2018 British Open*— T6
  • 2018 PGA Championship*— 2
  • 2018 PGA Tour Championship— Won

    * (Major Championships)

Tiger was in contention the back nine of the last round in each of the last two majors plus he won the Tour Championship at the end of the year. His progression was like an army on a force march to the next battle. Even so, the pundits were still questioning his ability to win another major before the start of this year’s Masters.

David Duval, a golf analyst on the Golf Channel and former #1 player in the world, got it right. He picked Tiger to win this year’s Masters Tournament based upon Tiger’s demeanor and how he was going about things. It was not completely about how well he was playing although that was certainly part of it. David’s explanation was that Tiger had the look again and seemed calm, diligent, and with purpose in what he was doing. If you watched the tournament, you could definitely see it.

A key point with this is that your IT Organization’s success is dependent upon how you and your team go about your business as much as what you do. It’s not all about doing things technically correct. Soft skills and communicating effectively make huge differences with your IT support clients.

6 takeaways from Tiger’s Masters win

There are 6 things I got out of Tiger’s miraculous win that I think are worth noting because they can be beneficial for IT managers to be aware of and appreciate.

1. Plan

Tiger had a plan. Well, “That sounds obvious!”, you might say. Most players have a game plan going into a tournament. Tiger’s plan was pretty simple and ultimately comes down to this:

  1. Keep the ball below the hole. (Augusta National greens are notoriously fast and putting from below the hole lets you be more aggressive.)
  2. Put the ball in the right spots on drives, iron shots, even on long putts. If you miss, miss it in areas that give you better odds of recovery.

Takeaway:  For IT managers to succeed, you have to have a plan. Those who plan achieve more success.

2. Preparation

Tiger prepared even when you might not have realized it. In the few tournaments he played leading up to the Masters, he worked on specific shots that he knew would be important at Augusta National. Things like drawing and fading a driver off the tee and moving the ball left or right and high or low as required with his irons…in tournament pressure situations. He has been preparing for this tournament since winning the Tour Championship last September.

Takeaway:  Preparation is key to success. Teaching your employees how to prepare and what to prepare for will help your IT organization achieve more success. When they succeed, you can succeed.

3. Experience

Tiger had to regain the experience of winning. He had to relearn how it feels to be in contention on the final afternoon of a major. He did that with the British Open and PGA Championship last year, then winning the Tour Championship boosted his confidence to a point that he knew he could win major championships again.

Takeaway:  Experience is critical for success and confidence comes with small wins that lead to bigger wins. It’s all about the process of doing the right things that lead to success.

4. Knowledge

Knowledge and experience played a huge part in Tiger’s win. His knowledge of his game and how he was playing plus considerable knowledge of Augusta National’s course and the greens were big advantages for Tiger in my opinion. He also reinforced within himself to remain patient throughout the tournament, something that’s hard for most of us to do. Even when things were not going as well as planned, Tiger remained patient and stayed confident about the good things that were to come if he kept doing the “right things”.

Takeaway:  In IT, we must gain the knowledge of what is required to support the business so we are in sync with what the business needs and positioned to deliver business value for our clients. It’s not all about technology. Our IT success is dependent upon understanding the business.

5. Focus

If you watched the tournament, you saw Tiger focused like a laser. One of the scenes I loved was when Tiger and Rory McIlroy were practicing in a bunker side by side on the 2nd day. Rory kept glancing over at Tiger, but Tiger never once looked away from what he was focusing on. He was like that on the course as well, truly focused on what he and he alone was doing.

Takeaway:  IT employees can’t focus if their manager doesn’t provide the focus. Let me rephrase this a bit. Employees will focus on what they think is important; it’s up to IT managers to help insure their focus is targeted appropriately.

6. Positive thinking

Tiger Woods has a huge capacity for thinking positively. Just listen to his press interviews and you pick it up immediately. I think this has a lot to do with how his Mom and Dad raised him; it’s part of who he is. In one interview after a round where he missed several short putts, he was asked about his putting. His response was, “My lines are good and as long as I’m leaving myself below the hole like I have been, I’ll be OK.” Meaning, he was hitting the putts on his intended line, but they just weren’t going in due to speed or a misread.

Takeaway:  This is key! As long as you are doing the right things and making your best efforts, ultimately you will be successful. It may take a while and you may fail several times before you reach that success, but if you are patient and persevere in continuing to do the right things success will find you.     

I can hardly wait to see how golf’s next major championship unfolds and learn from it.

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