Leadership Lessons from The Masters


The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire; the size of your dream; and how you handle disappointment along the way. –  Robert Kiyosaki

I am a lifelong golf fan. I came up in the era of Nicklaus, Palmer, Player, Trevino, Floyd, to name a few. Golf, in the words of Arnold Palmer is, “Deceptively simple and endlessly complicated; it satisfies the soul and frustrates the intellect. It is at the same time rewarding and maddening – and it is without a doubt the greatest game mankind has ever invented.” And it’s why I love the game.

Last Sunday at The Masters was both exciting and gut-wrenching to watch at the same time. The masterful play of Jordan Spieth on the front nine was truly remarkable (rewarding)-then came the back nine (maddening). The coronation of Spieth winning a second green jacket was placed on hold as the unthinkable happened on the 12th.

Life has a way of throwing us curves and what we thought was a certainty turns out to be anything but that. As leaders we face our share of circumstances when things don’t go as planned and we have to find a new way forward.

Golf has a way of teaching us about life and leadership. The Masters proved it. Here are a few takeaways.

It’s not whether you win or lose; it’s how you play the game

On the first nine Jordan Spieth put on a clinic. He closed out the front nine with four birdies in a row. He seemed unstoppable. The front nine revealed a confidence seldom seen in a 22-year old golfer at the top of his game. The back nine revealed his character in adversity.

Adversity has a way of introducing us to ourselves. In post- round interviews Spieth showed a maturity that made the game proud and left us with little doubt that while that loss will sting, he will be back.

Leadership Takeaway: Character is not developed in adversity it is revealed.

Even the best make mistakes

Ranked at number 2 in the world, it was not a fluke that Spieth was in the final pairing last Sunday. Even after the infamous “meltdown” he still had an opportunity to come back and win. And while it wasn’t meant to be this year, it would be foolish to count him out next year or anytime in the foreseeable future.

Hang around in leadership long enough and you will get acquainted with bad shots. You will understand the disappointment of a target you did not reach. It happens to the best of leaders. Mistakes are the pavement on the road to success. It’s not a matter of if you will fail; but how.


Leadership Takeaway: You are not defined by your mistakes you are defined by your response to mistakes.

Not everything goes according to plan

A lot of variables are taken into consideration when playing a round of golf. The pros rely on their caddies to help them with yardage to the pin, wind conditions, whether to lay up or go for the long shot, how fast/slow the greens are playing, etc. Nothing is left to chance. But after every consideration is taken into account it all comes down to the golfer to execute.

As a leader you can have a strategy for your business- expectations for sales, customer service, and employee engagement. But despite your best plans and strategies things may not go according to script. You have to make adjustments and play the hand you are dealt. It’s what Spieth had to do and as a leader you will do the same.

Leadership Takeaway: One bad swing can change your game plan. Be flexible and confident in knowing that you will recover.

Keep swinging

I can only imagine the disappointment that was going through Spieth’s mind on the 12th hole. Moments earlier it had almost seemed like a mere formality that had he continued to play even at par, he would go on to win the tournament.

One of the greatest challenges you will have in leadership is not how to stay strong when times are good, but how to keep swinging when you feel like walking away. Sound familiar? Yet, what Spieth demonstrated, and what we all have to do, is to keep swinging in spite of the disappointment.

Leadership Takeway: Disappoint and setbacks will challenge you as a leader. No matter what comes your way – never give up and keep swinging!


© 2016 Doug Dickerson









About dougdickerson

I am Certified Leadership Trainer, author, columnist, and speaker. Husband to Alicia, father to Katelyn and Kara, and "Pop" to terrific grandson Tyson. I am an avid photographer, love the outdoors, and like to travel. I'm passionate about sharing my leadership insights and helping people reach their full potential.
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