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11/4/2018 » 11/6/2018
2018 Annual Conference

2017 September October In My Opinon...
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In My Opinion... 
Leadership, how do you measure up? What is your leadership style?

by Dennis Lyon, CGCS
Successful Golf Course Superintendents need to be good leaders.  Leadership is one of the key tools in an effective superintendent’s tool box.  The best superintendents are not the ones who put in 70 or more hours per week and are on the job every day.  The best superintendents know what their organization’s goals are and successfully achieve these goals.
How do superintendents best accomplish organizational goals?  In my opinion, to achieve these goals superintendents need access to all the resources, skills and abilities available in, what I refer to as the “Successful Superintendent’s Tool Box”.  

Speaking for myself, during my many years managing Aurora Golf and as a consumer I have been amazed at the number of bad supervisors and managers I have experienced, not just in golf but everywhere.  I believe good managers, use exceptional leadership as a valuable tool in achieving their organizational goals.

LEADERSHIP:  It is my belief there are generally three (3) main styles of leadership.

The Autocratic Leader:  This style of leader depends on power and discipline.  They implement a “my way or the highway” philosophy.  This type leader is an expert who knows all the answers.  Communication is almost always one way and the only work accomplished is that directed by the leader.  This style of leader is not well liked or respected by employees.  This leadership style does not delegate and causes the leader to work endless hours and is usually miserable.  A demanding “micro manager” fits this description well.

The Compassionate Leader:  Due in part to problems caused by the Autocratic Leader, the pendulum eventually swung the other way and leadership evolved into the Compassionate Leader.  This leadership style is driven by “The Team.” Lots of team meetings and input from the team.  Decisions were made jointly by the team and the Compassionate Leader. This leader is respected and well-liked by employees.  This approach, although somewhat successful, is often slow to make decisions, reluctant to change and places little emphasis on strategic planning for the future.

The Exceptional Leader:  The Exceptional Leader has a style which is dedicated to training and educating employees to make decisions on how best to accomplish their job.  Employees fully understand and are committed to organizational goals.  They are provided the training, tools and the flexibility to figure out the best ways to accomplish their responsibilities.  Mistakes are a teaching tool which are understood and accepted by the leader.  The Exceptional Leader is concerned with the result not the process.  The final product is evaluated to ensure conformance with goals.  This leader is quick to complement and handles discipline with compassion.  This leader depends on staff to complete their work accurately and professionally. Employees are challenged, dedicated and committed to the leader and the organization.  The strong Exceptional Leader will have the time and flexibility to deal with the next crises, before it happens.  

The goal of the Exceptional Leader is to create a work environment which coincides with the ideas of Chinese Philosopher, Lao Tzu, 600 B.C., who stated, the Exceptional Leader is one, when the work is done and his aim fulfilled, they will say, “We did it ourselves.” 

At least that’s my opinion.  

Dennis Lyon, CGCS
GCSAA Past President 

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