It was wonderful to be invited to the TM Group Golf event last week and I was looking forward to having fun utilising my raw golf skills (clearly an overstatement). However, the anticipation for the event was dampened on the day when it became evident that it was going to rain all day and I had not prepared for this eventuality. My approach had been to extrapolate that the sunny weather the day before would continue and did not even bother to consult the weather forecast which apparently had accurately predicted torrential rainfall.

I assumed that on arrival the golf event would be postponed but to my utter astonishment discovered that the event was going ahead as planned. What was surprising was the enthusiasm from the remaining participants to proceed in this friendly ‘Ryder cup’ like event in spite of the weather. With gritted teeth I decided to also join my team to participate in the event and although my golf skills were atrocious to say the least, the shared experience of participating in this event in spite of the weather was an enlightening experience. It was evident that the participants were like-minded which could have been a result of the selection process or a fortunate fluke. Undoubtedly, the like-mindedness of the participants was a contributory factor of the shared ‘can do attitude’ in spite of the weather.

A key learning point from the experience was a reminder that groups with shared goals which the members believe in and have psychologically signed up for can thrive despite challenging conditions. In fact in such circumstances, the adverse conditions can sometimes provide the backdrop to develop a narrative that further binds the group to its strategic objectives. It is interesting how various stories during the day about the effects of the rain provided the right balance of humour and resilience which kept me motivated to the end of the day.

The other powerful insight was the positive effects of generosity and coaching to improve performance in teams. I hinted earlier that my golf skills were appalling and this became evident by the many air shots at the 1st hole. But my fellow team mates were incredibly generous and patient and provided me with relevant tips to improve my performance. The coaching by my team mates was so effective that by the 17th hole I was able to hit sweetly and impressively a drive shot in the same ball park area as the others. That experience reiterated the importance of providing effective coaching to underperformers in order to enhance team performance.

Sometimes the pressure to achieve swift results means that underperformers in ‘real work’ situations are not provided improvement strategies that are laced with sufficient generosity, patience and focused coaching. One thing that struck me from the coaching I received was the continued reinforcement of a few basic tips which resulted in a massive improvement in relative terms by the end of the day compared to the embarrassing performance at the 1st hole. However, I recognised that those tips would have been ineffective if I had not been willing to humbly accept them and take action. If an underperformer does not accept that their performance needs to improve and is unwilling to be open to others that are more competent to receive relevant  coaching then improvement efforts are likely to be futile.

Overall, the golf event exceeded my expectations because my golf skills have marginally improved and I gained new leadership perspectives on team work and coaching. For such a wonderful experience, I am extremely grateful to the TM Group and my wonderful team mates (who are anonymous to avoid being tempted to quit their day jobs by Golf agents).