Leadership Lessons from a Tough Day at The Masters

Being last year’s champion of The Masters golf tournament may be one of the toughest jobs in sports. It’s difficult because last year’s champion places the green jacket (the coveted prize one receives for winning The Masters) on the new champion, the player who wins this year.

Today, this act was even more difficult than normal. This is because Jordan Spieth, last year’s champion, was also leading the 2016 Masters after 65 holes, with just seven holes to play. On the 12th hole today, Spieth shot a 7 on a par-3. These four strokes sent Spieth reeling, and he could never recover. In the end, he finished tied for second place.

So after the tournament, Spieth had to put the green jacket on Danny Willett, the new champion. Spieth was visibly upset over the way his string of 7 consecutive rounds in the lead of The Masters (he won last year’s tournament and led through the first 3 1/2 rounds this year) came to an end. Yet he mustered up the courage, sportsmanship, professionalism, and strength to put the jacket on Willett.

Today was a good reminder that things won’t always go our way. In fact, sometimes they’ll go horribly wrong. As leaders, these times give us the opportunity to model tremendous leadership behaviors. When we model courage, sportsmanship, professionalism, and strength in these challenging times, it gives our team members the motivation and encouragement to respond similarly to difficult situations.

I know it was a difficult day for Jordan Spieth. But we can certainly learn about dignity and respect by watching how he responded to this challenge. I am sure Spieth will learn from today’s difficult final seven holes, and he will use the lessons to make him even better than he is now. You can learn from Jordan Spieth as well. Model courage, dignity, and sportsmanship for your team members, and they will grow stronger as a team, especially when they face great adversity.

Thanks for reading,

P.S. – Follow me on Twitter, @jvearle, and share my blog with others who enjoy leadership and positivity!





2 thoughts on “Leadership Lessons from a Tough Day at The Masters

  1. Hi Jim Just read your article on Speith at the Masters. I agree with you that it is a difficult thing to have to put the jacket on the new champ after such a tough way to lose but I would have to say Speith didn’t totally act all that dignified. Here’s what I saw. As he walked off the final hole and passed the gauntlet of fans on either side he didn’t acknowledge their cheers for him -which was no problem. But as he neared the clubhouse to sign his card and get ready to accept a check for $880,000 for 2nd place he put his hands up and told the TV cameras “not in the face boys.” That was uncalled for and showed to me he can’t take losing – however tough it was – when they had been filming him the whole way. What does he expect. He just made probably the biggest choke in history and he needed to be able to handle that like he handled the winning from last year. As for putting on the jacket he did so, but never congratulated the new champ – no handshake or nothing. Said nothing, and looked totally dejected, The look was fine, but he needed to have more class and say something. Or at least shake the guys hand. The tradition of the jacket is something he had to do. I watched the whole day, and really think Speith is great and hope he’ll rebound and continue to be a dominant player but he has had a lot of winning at a young age and needs to be able to lose gracefully more so than I think he showed. You may be giving him too much credit. Another guy I work with said the same thing to me just today. Just some thoughts. Mike Mart

    • Mike, thanks for your comment. Another good friend of mine and loyal reader commented similarly. I think both of you make some good points and I agree that I may have given Spieth too much credit. During the jacket ceremony, I think Spieth was still in shock. I saw a young man reeling over what just happened. I saw an individual fighting through his sadness to do what he knew had to be done. And for this, I gave him credit. But you are correct, he could have, and should have, been more respectful of Willett.
      I was also basing my assessment on watching Spieth answer question after question from reporters after his round. He stood there and answered them all. I don’t know if the interviews are mandatory, but I thought during these interrogations that relived his miserable back nine, he showed poise and strength.
      Always enjoy your thoughts and perspective! Thanks for starting a good discussion.

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