Tiger Woods, Steve Williams, And Your Business

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Let me preface this post by saying that I don’t follow golf very closely. I haven’t played golf in years, and have only broken 100 once in my life (playing by my own very loose rules which include a very liberal mulligan policy).

Let me also say that this is not a statement on the recent Tiger Woods/Steve Williams drama, as I didn’t follow it very closely, and I’m not writing here to take sides and make any great proclamations. I’m not commenting on who was right, who was wrong, or how those involved handled the situation. This is merely an illustration.

Not too long ago the beleaguered Tiger Woods and his longtime caddy, Steve Williams, parted ways. Woods is arguably the greatest golfer ever to play the game. Williams was with him for the long haul, but was fired just a month ago. During the 12 years they were together, Woods won a lot. He was at the top of his game, and it was rare that he didn’t finish at or near the top of every tournament. During that time Woods one 13 majors and 63 PGA events.

Then the relationship ended. Williams is now caddying for Aussie Adam Scott, who went on to win the 2011 WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Woods performance, meanwhile, has dipped. Dramatically. Just this past weekend he failed to make the cut in the PGA Championship, for just the 7th time in his career.

Again, I don’t know much about golf. I do know that Tiger Woods is a great golfer, and he’ll be back on top, probably very soon. I also don’t feel particularly sorry for Williams, as he makes more money in a year than I’ll probably ever make in my entire lifetime.

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I also know that a caddy isn’t just some kid who carries your bag. A caddy is someone who is also a very good golfer. Someone who knows the game incredibly well. Not only do they know the game, but they know the course. They know the clubs. And most importantly perhaps, they know the golfer for whom they are working. I would bet that very often the caddy’s strengths can make up for the golfer’s weaknesses. While the golfer is the one in the spotlight, they are truly a team. Plenty of holes have been won or lost based on the advice and knowledge of the caddy.

Now look at your business. You may have a very clear leader; a charismatic CEO who runs the business and makes the tough decisions. In fact, you may even be that person. But don’t let that go to your head. You’re only as good as your team; as the people with whom you surround yourself.

This doesn’t mean that any of your employees are indispensable. But neither are you.

Don’t forget how important your supporting cast is. Like a good caddy, they are the ones that help make you look good. They are not only your biggest supporters, but also your biggest assets.

Treat them well and give credit where credit is due. You may be the smartest and most talented person on the planet, but you wouldn’t be where you are without them. When things go wrong, the buck stops with you, but when things go right, make sure you recognize everyone that was involved in that success.

Do you understand the importance of your employees? Do you communicate that to them on a regular basis?

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