What a Low Handicap Says About Your Leadership

What a Low Handicap Says About Your Management


After I began my Ph.D. in management I selected hobbies as a analysis matter. “Get a passion!” had been well-liked recommendation to leaders from time immemorial, however no analysis had examined it. I discovered that — beneath the best circumstances — hobbies might be significantly invaluable for leaders when practiced as “severe leisure”: passionately and skilfully, typically with appreciable funding of time.

Then a analysis article appeared that appeared to pose a conundrum. Its authors discovered that “CEOs who golf probably the most are related to corporations which have decrease working efficiency.” This verdict echoed throughout the media beneath titles resembling “Proof! CEOs harm corporations by golf an excessive amount of.” I began seeing the “avid golfer” point out disappear from CEOs’ public profiles. A significant company’s web site had offered its CEO as a devoted lifetime golfer. Now it changed that point out with some dispassionate wording on crusing. Among the many prime leaders I interviewed for my analysis, those that weren’t golfers had been fast to level that reality out, unprompted. It had clearly change into retro for enterprise executives to declare a ardour for the hyperlinks. The enterprise media hurried to crown biking or triathlons as “the brand new golf.”

Ought to enterprise leaders then keep away from the placing inexperienced and work on their VO2 Max as an alternative? {The golfing} CEO examine noticed golf as solely a proxy for “leisure consumption” extra usually. How does the leisure consumption of golfers examine, for instance, with that of triathletes? Within the examine, {the golfing} CEOs discovered responsible of losing shareholder worth had been these within the prime quartile of time invested. They performed a median of 34 rounds of golf per 12 months, equal to about 200 hours yearly. By comparability, from my interviews with triathletes, coaching for a triathlon requires roughly 10-15 hours per week for 3 months, and most novice triathletes compete in two triathlons per 12 months. That quantities to 200-300 hours per 12 months. Following the logic of {the golfing} CEO examine, prime leaders who’re triathletes ought to subsequently be guiltier than those that golf probably the most. To not point out Ironman CEOs like Cigna’s David Cordani, Entergy’s Leo Denault or PNC Monetary’s William Demchak who, by the identical logic, ought to have way back pushed their corporations into the bottom. Most different passionate spare time activities are additionally more likely to require important funding of time, be it moonlighting as a DJ (like David Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs) or equestrian excellence (like Murray Kessler, CEO of Perrigo).

But, there are quite a few analysis arguments in favor of investing time in passionate leisure pursuits. Listed below are my prime three:

3 explanation why a passionate passion could make you carry out higher as a pacesetter

1. Optimum functioning. I interviewed prime leaders who’re severe leisurites, a few of them golfers. Their intense nonwork pursuit prevented burnout, over-identification with their CEO identification, tunnel imaginative and prescient, and a slew of different psychological well being dangers that include the highest job. It meant extra readability, creativity and vitality at work. CEOs whose passion is flying airplanes are related to higher company innovation. This dovetails with neuroscience analysis, coincidentally about…golf. Golf observe induces neuroplasticity in middle-aged adults. Those that gained probably the most brainpower had been those that practiced golf probably the most intensely. In different phrases, it’s not the informal killing of time whereas indulging in a passion, however the intense pursuit of talent or data particular to that passion, that brings the advantages related to optimum chief functioning.

2. Social capital. Any shared ardour makes it simpler to create deeper and longer lasting human connections. Golf has lengthy been identified for that, however all severe leisure pursuits have their very own world, the place figuring out an aficionado ensures immediate relatability. This deeper connection may even work throughout two very completely different varieties of great leisure. You could be a devoted photographer and the particular person in entrance of you, a martial arts practitioner, and you’ll nonetheless acknowledge the identical secretly proud striving for achievement (whereas humbly admitting you’re nowhere close to professionals’ ranges), the identical sense of “move” in your passionate pursuit, and the identical feeling of being your self while you interact in it.

3. Relatability. Staff discover it simpler to narrate to a pacesetter who loves drumming, like Nick Akins of AEP, or who reveals up at work with bruises from the morning’s martial arts observe, like Dan Schulman of PayPal. They count on their managers to mannequin work-life stability. Two-thirds of staff worldwide wouldn’t belief a pacesetter who works lengthy hours and weekends. Granted, golf could also be a more durable promote than different hobbies as a ardour that will increase one’s relatability, given its privileged, male and conservative picture. Nevertheless, golf is presently experiencing a wave of revival and transformation, and millennials are main this variation. Girls account for the largest share of the latest surge in golf participation. Possibly, in any case, the brand new golf is…golf.

How can we reconcile the above advantages of great leisure with the too-much-golfing-equals-shirking examine?

A better take a look at the examine reveals that the highest quartile of golfers incorporates a disproportionately giant share of really extreme golfers, who play between 66 and 146 rounds per 12 months. It isn’t troublesome to think about that a few of these CEOs could have given up on their job, and subsequently the efficiency of their corporations suffers. This subgroup very probably closely impacts the working outcomes of the entire prime quartile within the examine. Correcting for this impact, leaders who play 34 rounds of golf per 12 months might not be exhibiting worse working efficiency in any case. Additional, the examine reveals that there is no such thing as a statistically important distinction in agency efficiency between these led by above-median, and people led by below-median golfers, nor between corporations led by golfers and corporations led by non-golfers.

In different phrases, the 2 seemingly opposing views do align: It isn’t golf that may harm leaders’ efficiency, however an excessive amount of of it. Critical leisure research agree: obsessive ardour for severe leisure is unlikely to convey psychological or cognitive advantages. An excessive amount of of every thing, together with an excessive amount of work, is liable to harm your management efficiency.

If you’re a pacesetter and you’re keen on the sensation on the primary tee, don’t give it up. So long as you really care about your work, the world ought to belief you to seek out the best stability. Do your critics nonetheless subscribe to Dilbert’s disparaging view of govt golf? Counsel that they fight golf someday. A 12 months after the above Dilbert cartoon was printed, its creator, Scott Adams, really took up golf himself, and one other 12 months later his autobiography included an earnest essay on why all enterprise individuals, women and men, ought to do likewise.

And so it’s with a lot passionate leisure: its management advantages could seem illusory — till you really get into it your self.


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