The career of a professional golfer is similar to that of a project manager in many ways, and not just in its longevity. Let’s explore three ways that will help PMs to be as successful as Tiger – or Shane Lowry, our popular recent winner of the British Open.
Tiger famously started golf as a toddler, appearing on TV as a two year old. Even though that was an extreme example, to become successful a golfer needs to have the dedication to work at their game. And when success comes, they have to work even harder. That means hour after hour of practice, investment in the best tools and equipment, and the obsessive desire to improve.
Project Managers have a similar challenge. Many people are asked to lead a project without being given the training or tools they need – it can be a ‘sink or swim’ experience for many first-time PMs. However, by dedicating some time to understand what project management is about, and by investing time to understand what proven tools and techniques are out there, a PM can ensure they are set up for success.
No professional golfer gets there by himself/herself. From their early days they need to enlist a good coach, someone who will invest time with them to provide positive and negative constructive advice and guidance to help them develop. They need a reliable caddy, someone to put in the hard yards and be there to lean on when crunch time comes in a tournament. They will need a supportive sponsor to give them the backing they need to establish themselves as a member of the elite.
Project Managers must also build a support team. The support and backing of a Project Sponsor is critical. Advice and guidance from a mentor is invaluable when trying to figure out how best to deal with a tricky situation. And success will only come if the project team is willing to put in the effort and respond to the leadership of the PM.
While any of us can hole a putt from 6 feet, how many of us could do it under the gaze of millions of people, and do it knowing that to miss the putt would mean losing your livelihood? That is the kind of mental fortitude that elite golfers must demonstrate. Many of them build up an entourage of physical trainers, dieticians, and psychologists purely to give them that resilience – give them an edge by having the confidence that are perfectly prepared for this moment.
Project managers also need resilience. Every project involves risk, meaning every project will see things go wrong. Should the Project Manager retreat into a bunker, blaming themselves for everything? Of course not! The PM needs to learn from mistakes and accept that not every decision made – even made the be best available information – will deliver the desired result. After every bunker shot the PM needs to aim to chip back onto the green
So – maybe you project managers have more in common with Pro Golfers than you thought? The next thing we need to do is secure some TV commentator roles for PMs who are ready to hang up their schedules?
Aspira delivers training to help Project Managers, Sponsors and Project Team members to get into the swing of things and make success par for the course! https://aspira.ie/training/