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Blog : Pitch or Putt?


Pitch or Putt?

Recently I read an article that reminded me how vital it is to have trust in those that we work with. It explored the partnership between golfers and caddies, looking at how their relationship functions and the factors which influence success. I’m no golfer but I recognise caddies do more than just carry a golf bag. After all, Steve Williams (Tiger Woods’ former caddie) wouldn’t have been the richest sportsman in New Zealand if all he did was choose a few clubs.

Eric Barton, writing for BBC LeaderBoard noted “Caddies don’t just carry around a pro-golfer’s bag. They spend hours doing course research so they can suggest which club to use on each shot, they (golfer and caddie) must have trust in one another.”

There are so many variables when hitting a golf ball; weather, club selection, physical ability, noise, light and the golf ball itself means that despite all the planning and researching; inevitably a caddie’s advice can backfire and the shot may not end up as intended. Whilst some competitive sports professionals may look to place blame with others for poor performance, in golf the majority brush it off, recognising the unpredictable, and thus don’t regret wholeheartedly trusting their caddie with making the decision.

Some golfers go even further with their trust. On his way to winning the 2012 US Open, professional golfer Webb Simpson completely relied on his caddie, Paul Tesori, to help guide him around a course he’d never visited; resulting in a round of 6-under-par 64 (That’s a good score!). At the time Simpson said: "He basically showed me where to go yesterday and told me where to hit it, where the lines were, what clubs to hit. I didn't feel like it was my first time because he has so much experience here."

It could be argued that with large amounts of money at stake should it really be left to the caddie to make such a big decision on club selection and the right approach, however could the golfer make the right decision without the expertise and moral support provided by their right-hand man?

It’s clear that on the course, a strong and trusting relationship is critical for a successful round. The same can be said within the business environment and there are many strong examples of enlightened people-centric CEO’s placing important decisions in the hands of their teams every day.

Bob Galvin former CEO of Motorola concurs: “If you surround yourself with the right people who have integrity, and they all understand well the goals and objectives of the organisation, then the best thing to do as a leader is to get out of their way. I use this advice quite a bit at work. The right people will feel far more pressure to perform well when they are trusted.”

Trust can, as described by author and communication expert Ken Blanchard, be earned as quickly as it’s lost. Examples of ‘trust builders’ are listening, giving credit, setting clear goals, honesty and following through with commitments / decisions. Attributes that destroy trust; your ‘trust busters’, are lack of communication, dishonesty, breaking confidentiality and taking credit for another’s work. Sound familiar? Can you be sure that these behaviours aren’t exhibited by your leaders, ever?

By trusting in people to do their jobs, at all levels, they will remain engaged, performance will increase and growth for them as individuals and the organisation will result.

Here at Purple Cubed and indeed in our bestselling book; Purple Your People we use the concept of ‘Freedom in a framework’ where we treat our people as adults, trusting them to make the right decision for the business because they understand and recognise the defined boundaries. As a result we witness higher levels of creativity, better decision-making skills and importantly a happy and motivated team striving to do things which better our business.

How much freedom do you give your people to make decisions in your business?

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