Ryder Cup: The Importance of Teamwork and Leadership

leadershipI was watching the first round of the Ryder Cup and was struck by how different the format is from the regular PGA Tour.  The PGA Tour is all about the individual, you are playing for yourself and yourself alone. The Ryder Cup is all about the team, country and your playing partner. The last thing these guys want to do is let their team down.   The pressure to perform for your team is palpable and an amazing spectacle to watch. Competition brings out the true character of individuals, be it good or bad and the Ryder Cup competition illuminates the importance of team over individual and the impact leadership can have on success.

What Lessons Can We Take From the Ryder Cup?

Ryder Cup Team members are playing for the honor a win would bring the team, not for a paycheck. That tends to change your mindset. Much like World Cup Soccer, Ryder Cup players are part of something much bigger than the individual. Yes it comes down to individual performances, but the individual player is not playing for themselves, they are playing for their fellow teammates and country.

Personal Relationships Make the Difference

Ryder Cup Captains spend considerable time over pairing decisions and often base the decision on the personal chemistry of the two players. The stronger the personal relationship the stronger the desire to not disappoint your partner and team.

It is widely believed that much of the success of the European Ryder Cup Teams is due in large part to the close personal relationships and teamwork the Europeans have.  Europeans live for national competition against other countries whereas Americans tend to favor individual performance over international competition. The Americans have  struggled with the whole team concept despite dominating golf's major tournaments: The Open Championship, The US Open, The Masters and the PGA Championship.

Corporations recognize the value of investing in hiring and training the best employees possible. Corporate spending on team building is trending in a different direction. In the past, team building activities were centered around strengthening ties between individual team members. Now, corporations are focusing on service-oriented team building projects in an effort to tap the stronger emotional impact of improving the lives of the local community. What's the message?  The corporation through the individual, has a responsibility to the community.  These people in need depend upon you, do not let them down. Employees will perform better if they feel their efforts have a direct impact on customers they have an emotional connection with.

Plans are Important, Adjusting to a Changing Environment is Critical for Success

US Ryder Cup Team Captain Tom Watson was roundly criticized for not playing rookies Jordan Speith and Patrick Reed the afternoon of the first day of competition on Friday.  They were playing exceptional golf in the morning and sitting them was in hindsight a big mistake. The plan was to send Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley out in the afternoon but with Speith and Reed playing the best golf on the American team,  the plan should have been adjusted to meet the changing conditions.

Medinah 2012: It's Not Over Till Its Over!

In 2012 the Ryder Cup was held at Medinah Country Club in Chicago, Illinois.  Needing 14 1/2 points to win back the cup from the Europeans, the Americans are up 10 to 6 going into the final match on Sunday. Of the 12 singles matches, the Europeans would need to win 8 matches. It was a perfect storm and the Europeans ended up winning 14 1/2 to the Americans 13 1/2.

Each individual win elevates the team. Success breeds success. The Europeans stunning defeat of the Americans at Medinah proves that despite what might appear to be insurmountable odds, the act of believing in your fellow team mates, focusing all of your talents on the immediate task at hand, and never giving up are very powerful things indeed.

Readers: Has being part of a team motivated you or helped you to increase your individual performance?

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