Last year at the Torey Pines Golf  Tournament, Kyle Stanley went into the final day as the leader. Approaching the 18th hole Kyle was up 4 strokes and it looked certain that he was going to win the golf tournament. He was playing great. He made good decisions in tough spots, his putting was solid. Clearly, he was going to win. Then…….. on the 18th his approach shot went over the water landed in the middle of the green and everyone watched in horror as his ball slowly picked up speed and ran down the green, down the bank and into the water. At that point he started to make some bad decisions, he started second guessing himself and ended up tying the game. Going on to take second place in the playoff match.

Just seven days later Kyle Stanley, went on to win the Waste Management tournament, allowing him to play in the coveted Masters Championship.

Seldom in golf history do we see a player who is able to come back and win the following week.

So, what… and why do we care?

Kyle teaches all of us some important lessons. As managers we do the best we can in managing our direct reports.  When Kyle doesn’t hit the ball just right it can land in the trees off the fairway. Forcing Kyle to make a decision on how he is going to play the shot. Is he going to lay up? Is he going to punch it out and play it safe? Is he going to risk it and play through the trees, hoping it works out in the end?

Managers have the same types of choices. For example a manager might choose the wrong person to lead a project and the project seems off track. Does the manger play it safe and switch project leads? Does the manager give some quick directions to “punch it out” and get the project back on track?  Or, does the manager risk it and stick with the project lead, hoping that it all works out in the end?

Kyle hit the 18th hole in the middle of the green. Normally a great shot, but the ball had some back spin and it ended up in the water. Managers, do the same thing, things seem to be going great then ….all of a sudden, in a flash, the project comes in late, or some unforeseeable event occurs and the project or product doesn’t come through.

Kyle teaches us Two important lessons.

First, to NOT give up. To keep going. Even though he made some bad choices, he came to this tournament “ready to play.” “I put it behind me, believing that I could do it,” said Kyle.  As a former manager, I  made some bad choices. I didn’t play the “ball” well.  I needed to learn from the mistakes and start fresh. Kyle said that he changed his approach shots so he didn’t have as much back spin on his ball. Managers need to do the same. Learn from the mistakes and keep going.

Second, give support. In an interview following the Waste Management win, Kyle said he was grateful for the support he was given. He said people he didn’t even know gave him encouraging words. As managers we have employees who don’t play the game well. They can make bad decisions. We need to encourage our employees to keep going. That we believe in them. That we trust and have confidence in them. Sometimes our employees need words of encouragement from us. While it doesn’t seem like much… those few words of encouragement could make all the difference in helping them “win the game.”

In my first time management classes I teach participants how how to be effective managers, not just successful. Keeping Kyles two lessons iin mind will help you be more effective in leading productive teams.