Keeping the Right Communication “Clubs” in Your Golf Bag

In the game of golf, not every shot is the same. The variables change with every shot: distance to the hole, your lie, whether you are in the fairway/rough/sand trap, the weather conditions, what hole you are on and the score vs your opponent. All of these variables, and others as well, will dictate which club you pull out of your bag for the shot.

In order to be a good golfer, you need to have the correct clubs in your bag, AND you need to know how and when to use each club. You need the correct equipment, and you need to know how to use your equipment. No sense in having that special wedge in your bag if you don’t know when and how to use it. Pretty logical, right?

My kids both took golf lessons when they were very young. They both liked it, neither loved it, and neither will likely stick with it. But I found it fascinating that when kids are learning the game of golf, most instructors will send them out with only a few key clubs in their bag. Beginners don’t go out with the full 14 clubs in their bag. They don’t yet need them, and won’t know how to use them. But as their game grows, a good instructor will start to teach the young and growing golfer how to add new clubs to their repertoire… not just to carry them, but how to use them. So, as the young golfer’s skills improve, they will start carrying more and more clubs in their bag, and their skills with each club will improve over time.

I am not a golfer, but I love the game, love to watch, and most of all, I love the metaphors that golf offers us. And this metaphor about the clubs in the golf bag works perfectly to explain the communication skills that leaders need. The key to great leadership communication is to have lots of “clubs in your bag.” Leaders face lots of situations with many variables, and not every “shot” requires the same club. Not every situation requires the same form, message and tone of communication. The strong leader will have a full bag of communication clubs and will know how to use each club. Sometimes, the leader will need the “brevity club.” Sometimes the “detail club.” Sometimes the “direct, strong tone club.” Sometimes the “soft, sensitive tone club.” Leaders face a wide variety of situations and need to be able to communicate in lots of ways, to lots of different audiences.

And the developing leader probably should start off with just a few clubs in their bag, and learn how to use those initial clubs. As their skills grow, they can add more communication clubs, and develop their skills with a wider array of clubs.

How many communication clubs do you have in your bag? And do you know which club to use, and how to use each one? When it comes to communication, this is one of the most critical forms of awareness a leader can have.

Have a great day.

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.