This past week I led a discussion for senior women at an 85 Broads event in Boston about politics in the workplace. As we exchanged ideas about the best way to build relationships and alliances with men in the workplace, the subject of golf came up. Many of the women acknowledged that they play golf and see the game as a way to connect with male co-workers and executives. What other opportunities can give you so much quality time outside the office?
I know that many professional women have taken up the game of golf in order to build their business and forge important relationships outside the office setting. It’s a strategic move for sure. But other important questions arise.
Do you play to win? What if you are a better golfer than most of the men? My opinion is that you will earn more respect if you show up with your best game (just as you would at work).
If it’s an all male outing, do you insert yourself in the tournament or do you wait for a more comfortable opportunity? I personally don’t think it’s a great move to insert yourself into a setting that will make everyone feel uncomfortable. You need to evaluate the opportunity carefully and see if the benefits would outweigh the negatives.
Politics is everywhere and is most definitely present on the golf course. If you play golf, you should use the same skills on the course as off the course to build relationships. Observe and ask questions and listen carefully to the conversation and the drama!
Use the opportunity to learn more about the other players. What does their golf game reveal about their personality? about their approach to life?
How much of their ego is involved?
Are they competitive or lay back?
You can learn a lot about how they play the game of life and business from playing golf.
I don’t look at women playing golf as women trying to be more like men. Many women love the sport and simply take advantage of their passion to play to build their careers. Whatever the reason, golf is a great example of how we should all take the opportunity to build relationships both in the office and out of the office. Great careers and businesses can be built from solid alliances.