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Monday, September 12, 2011

Positive Leadership: Inspirational leadership secures #WalkerCup

If north-east Scotland had not been buffeted by strong winds and rain squalls at the week-end, might the US have won the Walker Cup again? The question is relevant following Great Britain and Ireland’s narrow victory in a thrilling match at the stunning Royal Aberdeen golf club because winds gusting up to 30mph and intense rain squalls were certainly less familiar to the visitors than to the home team.

The answer to the question though is that Great Britain and Ireland confounded all known form, including the current world amateur golf rankings not to mention almost all the pre-match predictions and were so ably led by Nigel Edwards that they won this biennial contest for only the eighth time. They probably would have won under calmer conditions. But it is also true that luck favoured Edwards. Had the wind dropped on Sunday morning so that the second day could have been played in a calm, when the Americans improved, then matters might have been different. In fact, perhaps it was Edwards’s performance that tipped it for Britain and Ireland. The third Welshman to captain Great Britain and Ireland, Edwards, 43, became the second to win, after Clive Brown’s victorious captaincy at Royal Porthcawl in 1995.

Edwards stands comparison with Colin Montgomerie in last year’s Ryder Cup in the way he coaxed and cajoled his men to victory. Just as Montgomerie looked into every detail, even the smallest and least significant, so Edwards did much of the same. His self assurance, his eye for detail, his elaborate preparation and his knowledge of the competition as well as his passion for it, simply overwhelmed Jim Holtgrieve, the eminent American golfer. Holtgrieve is a sturdy man from the mid West, a superb and successful amateur and a less successful professional who returned to the amateur ranks. But he is 63 and his rather casual style of captaincy and the age gap between him and the rest of his team made him look out of touch at times. His captaincy also highlighted an obvious question: why is the United States Golf Association in the business of giving captaincy of this competition to former players as a reward?

The 43rd Walker Cup was rather like an old Ryder Cup. Holtgrieve gave the impression of leaving much of it to his players, believing he had the best amateurs in the world who were sufficiently experienced to be able to look after themselves. Edwards, by contrast, could not do enough for his men, from taking them twice to Aberdeen for practice week-ends, to showing motivational films and continually making sure that he was in the right place when he needed to be. Most of all, he was able to speak from the experience of winning and losing in Walker Cups because he had played in two winning teams as well as two that narrowly lost. In this he was rather reminiscent of Bernhard Langer at Oakland Hills in the 2004 Ryder Cup. While Hal Sutton progressed around while wearing a cowboy hat that, frankly, made him look rather silly, Langer concentrated on popping up on the tee of every short hole, always ready to give advice and pass on information.

Edwards looked as though he knew precisely what he was doing at all time; Holtgrieve didn’t. Edwards looked on top of his job; Holtgrieve didn’t. Edwards is certain to be asked to captain GB and I at the National Golf Links on Long Island, New York in two years. Holtgrieve probably will be asked because the convention among American teams is that captains are given a home and an away match, but he may not actually deserve it.

You make your own luck. “Prepare properly and you get your just rewards” Edwards said. He did and he and his team won. Holtgrieve didn’t and so he and his team lost.

Posted by John Hopkins


Positive Leadership: Crisis Leadership

On September 11, 2001 we witnessed both the destructive power of evil leadership and the resilient power of heroic leadership by FDNY, NYPD, and countless others.

One figure who stood tall as an example of effective leadership during the crisis is former New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

Regardless of your political leanings, Guiliani's leadership during the 9/11 tragedy is something leaders from all walks of life can learn from.

In his book titled Leadership, Giuliani writes, "It is in times of crisis that good leaders emerge."
Giuliani demonstrated that during times of crisis, leaders must do four critical things: be highly visible, composed, vocal, and resilient.


Giuliani writes, "While mayor, I made it my policy to see with my own eyes the scene of every crisis so I could evaluate it firsthand."

During a crisis, leaders must be out front rather than running or hiding from the ordeal. They must go to the scene of disaster and stand front and centre - to accurately assess the situation as well as show their concern, while also demonstrating confidence that the group will persevere.

Business author Tom Peters writes of Guiliani's courage to be visible: "Rudy 'showed up' - when it really mattered, on 9/11. As one wag put it, he went from being a lameduck, philandering husband to being Time magazine's 'Man of the Year' in 111 days. How? Not through any 'strategy,' well-thought-out or otherwise. But by showing his face. By standing as the embodiment of Manhattan's Indomitable Spirit."

As a leader, be sure you don't retreat when faced with a crisis. Rather than hide from the chaos and confusion, be sure to step in to sort things out and find a solution.

Again, political preferences aside, the importance of being visible during a crisis can also be learned from George W. Bush's presidency. Like Giuliani, Americans rallied around President Bush when he went to Ground Zero and grabbed a bullhorn amid the rubble to reassure the nation.
Contrast that with President Bush's lack of a timely response to Hurricane Katrina. Bush was noticeably absent during the first few days of the crisis and his poll numbers took a big hit.

Bottom Line: Step up during a crisis to survey the scene and be there for your people.


Guiliani writes: "Leaders have to control their emotions under pressure. Much of your ability to get people to do what they have to do is going to depend on what they perceive when they look at you and listen to you. They need to see someone who is stronger than they are, but human, too."
No matter how difficult things may seem, you must maintain your poise under pressure. People will look at your face as well as tune into the tone of your voice to determine whether they should panic or remain calm; to give in or maintain hope.

As Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski reminds us in his book Leading with the Heart, "A leader must show the face his team needs to see."

Bottom Line: Be sure to show your team that you are calm and in control, even though you may not exactly feel that way at the time. Your calm demeanour will go a long way toward helping your team think clearly and react appropriately during the crisis.


Giuliani writes, "I had to communicate with the public, to do whatever I could to calm people down and contribute to a orderly and safe evacuation [of lower Manhattan.]"

In addition to being visible and composed, leaders must step up in an effort to calm people down and communicate with them.

Bottom Line: You must speak up and take charge of what people are thinking and feeling at the time. You must reassure them and give them a simple yet specific plan that will get people through the crisis. Outline important action steps that they can take immediately to help themselves and the team.


As difficult as the crisis can seem, remind people that there is hope.

Giuliani writes: "I am an optimist by nature. I think things will get better, that the good people of America and New York City will overcome any challenge thrown our way. So in the face of this overwhelming disaster, standing amid sixteen acres of smouldering ruins, I felt a mixture of disbelief and confidence... that Americans would rise to this challenge."

While your athletic challenges pale in comparison to 9/11, they can still discourage, distract, and debilitate those on your team.

Bottom Line: Give your team a sense of hope. Let them know that they have the ability to make it through the crisis.

9/11 was undoubtedly a horrendous day in the USA’s history. Yet, in the course of this tragedy, countless leaders emerged to help the nation through.