What Kind of Swing?

I have lunch with our Elder Chairman every Wednesday. Most of my pastor friends would call that kind of arrangement "Purgatory," but it's been a large part of what has made our transition so smooth. He's a great guy with great leadership instincts, which makes our lunches one of the weekly appointments I look forward to. I've also heard he's a pretty fine golfer. 

This past week he used an analogy in talking about trying to fill various staff roles that I think makes a lot of sense. 

He says there are some golfers who have a "manufactured swing," and some golfers who just "swing." The golfer with a "manufactured swing" had to learn the mechanics of the swing and practice them until they become a part of his muscle memory. Golfers who just "swing" are born with instincts that allow them to swing a golf club naturally. If you're watching very carefully, you can spot the difference when you watch golf. 

Here's the thing: both swings can win a bunch of golf tournaments. In fact, two of golf's best are different: Arnold Palmer has a "manufactured swing," Jack Nicklaus just swings. 

What does it matter? It makes all the difference if you're a coach. If a "manufactured swing" begins to falter, it's usually because the golfer has taken out a mechanic that he needs to add back in. If a "just swing" begins to struggle, it's usually because the golfer has started doing something that isn't natural for him. 

When it comes to coaching individuals in an organization, similar principles apply. You will hire some people who have learned how to do a skill really well. When they start to struggle, it's usually because they've left out a step that they used to include. They may not see it as critical to the mechanics of their job, but it is. Other people will have natural talent for what they do. If we're not careful, we can pile so many other things on their plate that they start to "swing" differently. That's a great way for them to miss the ball altogether.