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Ten Questions with Golf Coach Hank Haney
In May, I wrote about the legacy of Hank Haney, shortly after he resigned from his post as Tiger Woods’ swing coach. I expressed my thoughts about his experience and talent as a coach, some of what I had gathered about his professional motivations and approach to his craft, and what I observed to be a general sense of his personal character traits. Since then, I have continued to be impressed by Hank’s work ethic, professionalism, and response to his critics. For one thing, the fact that he has kept his head held high while persevering illustrates his great strength as a coach: Hank is best known for the success of his students, even after all of his own personal success.
Hank has stayed busy (as you’ll see below), but we were able to catch up with him recently and ask a few questions about his thoughts on leadership and his upcoming appearance at the Global Institute for Leadership Development.
1. What leadership lessons has the game of golf taught you?
Golf is the hardest game in the world and the lesson of patience is something that every golfer must learn. Patience is key in leadership; it takes confidence to be patient and confidence comes from “knowing that you know.”
2. Are there any leaders that you particularly admire? Why?
I admire every leader because it is never as easy as it looks to lead. Every leader not only sets an example for his or her followers, but is responsible for creating more leaders. The more leaders there are, the more people there are that follow. The more people follow, the more goals of a group get accomplished.
3. Your career has gone through some transitions this year. What has helped you with these challenges?
The transition in my career hasn’t been a challenge, it has been an opportunity. I have moved my career in a slightly different direction, one which is very exciting. I am focusing on teaching at my Hank Haney International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and getting ready to open the Hank Haney Golf Academy at Mission Hills Haikou in China. I am also doing more and more motivational speaking, which of course is something that I enjoy. I have a lot of great opportunities and I am very thankful for them.
4. Tell us about the greatest leadership challenge you’ve ever faced personally.
The greatest opportunity that I have had to lead was when I resigned from working with Tiger Woods. I was able to show my colleagues that two of the most important things in life are to not be afraid to do something that you believe in, and when you do something, do it the right way.
5. What advice do you give to your clients that is also applicable to non-golfers?
The process that it takes to make improvement at golf is no different than the process that it takes to make improvement in anything. The formula for success is the same, and you can always improve no matter how good you are at something. The key is to understand that you are either getting better, or you are getting worse.
6. How do you know when you have truly made progress with a student?
Progress with a student is something that always happens, it just doesn’t always show itself in a way that you hoped or thought it would. Goals are stepping stones that allow you to make and see progress with your plan. As long as you are stepping forward, that is all you have to monitor no matter how small the steps are.
7. Tell us about the methodology for your “Teach the Teacher” Seminar.
In my “Teach the Teacher” seminars, I focus on teaching golf instructors how to diagnose any situation that a golf instructor might face and how to formulate a plan to work toward improvement. I don’t think it matters what you are trying to improve; you must first be able to diagnose the situation and second be able to formulate a step-by-step plan to work toward improvement. Then you must be patient with your plan. I believe that this formula works for everything in life, so absolutely, the executive coaches could apply the same methodology.
8. We know that you have The Haney Project on The Golf Channel, and The Haney Plan you refer to yourself. Can you tell us about both of these?
The Haney Project on the Golf Channel is a golf instruction reality show that started with me helping Charles Barkley, then Ray Romano, and this year I am working with Rush Limbaugh. The show has been a lot of fun and a great learning experience for me. One key to success is to always have a plan, whether it is in teaching golf, in business, or in life in general, so I am always talking about having a plan. You can’t get to where you want to go without a plan, so the Haney Plan is my personal plan for success.
9. What is the best part of being a business owner and leader?
The best part of being a business owner and leader is being able to train people that work with you to be able to be successful in their own right. The more successful that people who are associated with you are, the more successful you will be yourself, regardless of how those people are connected to you.
10. What is your favorite course to play?
Any Discovery Land Golf Course – the golf experience at any of their properties is simply the best. My two favorites are my home course Vaquero Club in Westlake, Texas and Eldorado Golf and Beach Club in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
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