Guest blog: Ryder Cup lessons



Having all enjoyed Europe’s emphatic victory over the USA in golf’s Ryder Cup last weekend,  Trevor Lee lists the lessons that can be learned in the business world.

  1. Team Culture – Bringing together 12 players from nine countries to form a tight knot team was some achievement. In business it’s not always easy to bring together people from different departments within the same organisation. Responsibility for creating a team culture across the whole business lies firmly with the business leader.
  2. Momentum runs in 2 directions – Europe led 10-6 going into final day but for a while USA had the momentum leading in all but one of the first six matches on the course. The amazing comebacks by Graeme McDowell and Justin Rose affected both teams and swung the momentum back to Europe. Business leaders need to create momentum and then keep it going. It’s too easy sometimes when things are going well to take your foot off the accelerator.
  3. Preparation – The European team preparation was intense. As Rory McIlroy said of captain Paul McGinley ‘He left no stone unturned’. The chances of success in business are greatly enhanced by thorough planning and preparation. McGinley spent two years preparing for three days.
  4. Be prepared to make big changes – Europe picked Ian Poulter not on current form but on his ‘talisman’ role that had led to Europe to come back from 10-6 down to win in 2012. After the first morning though, it was obvious that Poulter was not on from and he was dropped from the Friday and Saturday afternoon matches.
  5. Its not all about young guns – It is rare in professional golf for players to ‘make it’ after their twenties. Step forward 38 year old Ryder Cup debutant Jamie Donaldson who won three matches out of four and had the honour of winning the match that clinched the cup. For the Americans, 35 year old Jimmy Walker came out of nowhere to win selection for the team and be one of only two members of the USA team to play in all five matches, losing just once.
  6. Never give up – In the first match out in the singles, European stalwart Graeme McDowell found himself three down after six holes against the 21 year old Jordan Spieth. Spieth missed a chance to go four up on the seventh. McDowell saw that as a turning point. He won the next three holes to level the match and eventually won 2&1. Justin Rose was four down to Hunter Mahan, but again he refused to give up and fought his way back to halve the match. When times are tough you have to keep believing in yourself.
  7. Create a great management team – As a leader you can’t do everything. Paul McGinley appointed the highest number of vice-captains ever (five) to help him. Getting help as a business leader is something many leaders, especially of SMEs often ignore. Surround yourself with highly competent people who can help you make your business a real success.
  8. Celebrate success – When you do ‘win’ –  a big contract, an award, etc…make the most of the moment. Celebrating success is a great way to bring your team together. Enjoy it !

About the author:

Business coach Trevor Lee specialises in working with SME owners seeking to improve their leadership skills and with those people who are new to management roles.