Leadership Lessons from The Masters

This past weekend the most well-known golf tournament in the world was played at a course in Augusta, Georgia. The course is called Augusta National Golf Club and the tournament is called The Masters.

This year, my wife and I were fortunate enough to attend the Wednesday practice round and Par 3 Contest that takes place on the eve of the actual tournament.

It was an amazing experience!

The beauty of the course was breath-taking, the patron experience was phenomenal, the interaction with the golfers and among the golfers was fascinating, and being at a place in-person that you have seen on TV for years and years was surreal.

I also learned some leadership lessons along the way…

Pay Attention to Detail

To say that the management team of the Augusta National Golf Club pays attention to the details is a massive understatement. So much so, that it is rumored that if a patron/customer finds a weed on the property, he or she will be paid $500. I don’t know if that’s true or not but, after seeing the course in person, I believe it. From the condition of the course to the management of the crowd, every detail has been thought through – and you can tell.

This attention to detail is one of the things that sets The Masters apart from other golf tournaments, sporting events, and entertainment venues. It is a competitive advantage.

It is also a leadership advantage.

When, as a leader, you spend time thinking through the details of what your customers or employees will experience about your organization, you will be able to surpass their expectations. You will be able to anticipate problems and prevent them from happening in the first place. And you will enable your organization to reach its full potential.

Yes, paying attention to the details is a pain-staking and time-consuming endeavor, but the end results are worth it.

What details need your attention as a leader?

Give the Customer What They Need, Not Just What They Want

The customer is not always right because the customer does not always know what he or she needs. I realized this at The Masters.

At the Masters, I wanted to walk all over the famous course that I had been revering on TV for many years. But I needed the ropes, volunteers, and security personnel that governed my movements around the course in order to keep me and others safe.

I wanted to park my car at the first spot I saw. But I needed the parking attendants who funneled me to a particular spot, so that I could leave in an orderly fashion when that time came. Can you imagine the chaos if there was no organization to the parking process?

I wanted to get a Masters shirt to take home, but so did every other person in attendance that day. But instead of being a free-for-all that resembled a WrestleMania rumble, there was a systematic way of choosing and purchasing our souvenirs. By providing what the customers needed, we were assured of getting what we each wanted.

In business, it’s good to give the customers what they want; but it’s even better to give them what they didn’t even know they needed.

Be a strong enough leader that you can lead others where they need to go and not simply where they want to go.

You Can Embrace Change and Benefit from Tradition

The Masters golf tournament and spectator experience is all rooted in tradition. The Masters has many traditions and these traditions have created an aura of awe and reverence that adds to its appeal. Not only do these traditions exist, but each customer (whom The Masters calls “patrons”) is expected to respect and comply with these traditions.

But that doesn’t mean that The Masters is stuck in its ways. On the contrary, Augusta National is on the forefront of embracing the latest golf course technology and the most culturally relevant digital media, as an example of their progressiveness and adaptability. The Masters has found a way to embrace tradition and change at the same time. Their traditions help them stay true to their roots and values, while embracing certain changes or adapting to changing realities helps them to keep growing their brand.

Leaders not only have to deal with change, they have to initiate it. But good leaders also recognize the importance and value of traditions. Traditions give organizations a culture that continuously enhances the values and beliefs of the company – so embrace tradition and ritual. But you don’t have to do it at the expense of adaptation.

The Masters is a clear example of this truth.

Treat People Well

It takes an amazing number of employees and volunteers to pull off the biggest and most famous golf tournament in the world. But every one of them was nice, pleasant, and helpful – treating the patrons with respect and friendliness. So, guess how the patrons respond? That’s right, they mirror this attitude and behave in like ways.

But it goes even further than that. Since each patron is treated so well, they end up becoming helpers, representatives, and spokespeople for The Masters. I saw people picking up trash they found on the course, buying Masters stuff that they will take home with them, and telling others that they have to go to Augusta when they can.

These customers feel like they are part of The Masters because they were made to feel that they are part of The Masters by how they were treated.

So, as a leader, are you (1) paying attention to detail?; (2) giving people what they need and not just what they want?; (3) valuing the role of tradition while you embrace change?; and (4) treating people so well that they become ambassadors for your organization?

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