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Golf players are better managers - new findings on the impact of golf for management performance

Golf coaching is the name of a future option in management training. The recent study conducted by Dr. Katrin Muff at Business School Lausanne is based on three years of applied field research in 'mental' golf coaching methods. The thesis "Golf, a valid option to improve personal effectiveness in management" shows that there is a high correlation between dimensions of personal effectiveness in golf and in management. The results provide interesting insight in the theory of performance management and open an exciting new avenue in the field of management development.

Managers who play golf acquire or improve skills that make them more efficient in their job. 88% of survey participants exposed to golf coaching courses confirm a measurable improvement in their managerial effectiveness. There are direct parallels between golf and management in decisionmaking, setting objectives, negotiation, imagination, openness to change planning and implementing a strategy.

As Bobby Jones famously said, "Golf is played in the 5½ inches between your ears", and indeed the mental dimension required to succeed in golf is closer to management than in any other sport. Poise, optimism, tranquility, self-confidence, concentration, imagination, self-control and commitment are critical factors to succeed in golf. These are also key success factors of a manager and have often been considered a part of personality that one either has or not. This groundbreaking study now proves that golf offers a powerful new option to train and develop personal effectiveness skills of a manager.

Improving managerial effectiveness goes beyond looking at a manager from the neck up and involves understanding dimensions of performance beyond our cognitive capacity. Managers are "corporate athletes" who must train in the systematic way athletes do, if they are to perform at high levels over the long haul. Most critically, a manager must know how to oscillate between moments of high performance and relaxation if he wants to consistently perform at his best. A round of golf provides 70 to 100 such opportunities of oscillation and provides the perfect setting to train "corporate athletes".

Professional golf players have recognized the advantages of working on their mental game and have discovered that a strong mental attitude provides a significant competitive edge. More recently, amateur golfers have gained access to mental golf coaching have come to the same conclusion. Business School Lausanne is collaborating with the Oscar-winning film production company Catpics Coproductions Ltd. (www.catpics.ch) to produce a documentary film based on this research in 2009.

A selection of the ground-breaking results of the study:

  • 83% of survey participants say that playing golf makes a manager more effective in the job
  • 94% of respondents who participated in a golf coaching course are convinced that improvement in personal effectiveness in golf can be taught via golf coaching
  • 89% of respondents have confirmed that 10-12 aspects of personal effectiveness in management can be improved through golf coaching
  • 83% of HR and professional coaching experts have quantified why golf coaching would be effective to achieve a personal effectiveness improvement in management (critical dimensions: being energetic, achieving, imaginative, socially confident, open for change, conscientious, persuasive, autonomous and sociable)
  • 78% of respondents have measured a positive improvement at work as a result of playing golf
  • 72% of surveyed managers confirm that golf coaching is a new option to improve personal effectiveness at work

A summary of the thesis "Golf, a valid option to improve personal effectiveness in management" is available from info@bsl-lausanne.ch

Dr Katrin Muff, Dean of Business School Lausanne
Dr Katrin Muff, Dean of Business School Lausanne

About the author

Reflecting on her doctorate thesis, Dr. Katrin Muff says "Looking back, I recognize the importance of learning and continuing personal development as a basic attitude to life. My thesis seeks to provide new insights to performance management in business and to contribute to widening our understanding in how we bring out the best in ourselves and the people we are responsible for as managers."

Katrin Muff, 39, started playing golf in 2001. She soon discovered that the managerial skills she had acquired during 15 years of an international career in multinationals and as an entrepreneur were her best assets for this sport. She started to explore the correlation between golf and management and published a book entitled "Golf, the game of life" in 2006. In 2008, Dr. Muff has taken on a new professional challenge as Dean of Business School Lausanne.

 

January 7, 2009

 


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