I ran into a colleague I haven't seen in a few years. Seems my friend was AWOL from a company offsite meeting. At the side of a very busy road we caught up with each other's activities and accomplishments. The conversation made me think of a movie - Tin Cup.
In Tin Cup, Kevin Costner plays Roy McAvoy, a "A washed up golf pro working at a driving range tries to qualify for the US Open." He earns a spot at the US Open but not before a bunch of memorable situations and events. I think the movie has excellent value for business people.
At the final hole of the US Open, McAvoy is about to win. But instead of taking the easy way out and doing a "lay up", he tries to get the ball onto the green. This is a high risk endeavor. McAvoy's nemesis always lays up and is seen as never truly attaining greatness as a result. McAvoy never does a "lay up" and always, always, goes for it.
Back to the final hole at the Open, McAvoy expends 11 shots before finally sinking the ball into the cup. By the way a "lay up" is defined by About Golf as "choosing to hit a shot shorter than you are capable of in order to avoid a hazard or to position the ball in a certain spot."
I'd like to offer up a leadership version of the "lay up": When an individual lacks the courage or desire to take on something difficult or challenging and instead pursues jobs, projects or tasks that are easy in order to either look good or to survive.
A great example of this is from this week's episode of The Apprentice where one of the candidates that reached the final four did so by coasting for weeks without adding value, before being fired by Trump.
Most will agree that in business and life (and golf) not everyone can be a Roy McAvoy all the time. But there is some thing of value for all leaders in this movie. What I learned from this bit of Hollywood is that that we need to create an environment where everyone pushes to deliver to their peak potential. Anything less is a Leadership Lay Up.
Related Links: Leadership, Management, What I Learned from Hollywood - Part 1, What I Learned from Hollywood - Part 2, What I Learned from Hollywood - Part 3