Has Your Company Created “The Tiger Effect"? Stephen Long, PhD
You’ve spent millions of dollars on training, and what do you have to show for it? Training programs are the first to be cut during lean times, and I’m not here to argue that they shouldn’t. Most training programs lack sufficient evaluation and have an inconsequential impact on the bottom line. In the 90s, training went from a perk to an entitlement. Employees expect to be continually educated without being held responsible to apply information in a manner that creates profit. What’s worse is that many employees leave after you’ve educated them. Why should you continue to educate your competition's workforce?
CEOs recognize the dilemma: Should I cut training and risk losing good people, or should I continue to pour money into programs that provide little or no return on investment? Your business instincts tell you to cut, but your Human Relations people inform that it would be unfair to your employees. You know that training should provide a competitive advantage, but isn’t there a better way to move the performance mean forward?
The problem is one of illusion. Training companies explain how they’ll create significant changes in behavior for your employees, but they don’t tell you how that behavior change affects your bottom line. The assumption is that significant behavior change correlates with significant bottom line change. I’m here to disprove that assumption. The key is to make minor behavior change with the right people that create the substantial effect of creating a performance culture.
Let’s look at the PGA Tour and what I call “The Tiger Effect. " Tiger Woods is the number one ranked player in the world and arguably the most recognized athlete on the planet. It's safe to say that Tiger is a Level Six Performer-someone who maximizes his potential and creates the most return on his work output. Since Tiger turned professional in 1996, much has changed for the PGA Tour. TV ratings are up, TV contracts are up, sponsorships are up and golf participation is up all around the country, especially in urban areas. CBS reports that when Tiger is in contention ratings increase 100%. Sports marketers are marveling at The Tiger Effect. They realize how powerful a superstar can be, and it sure makes their job easier.
What about the effect that Tiger has had on his fellow PGA Tour players? Has there been an improvement in the performance of the top players? Has the culture changed? In the five years before Tiger joined the PGA Tour, the top 10 players scoring average was 69.73 strokes per round. In the five years after Tiger joined the tour, the scoring average has improved .18 strokes per round to 69.55. That’s an improvement of almost one stroke per tournament for each player.
That may not mean much to you and your Saturday morning $10 Nassau, but at the highest levels of competition, it means millions of dollars. In 2000, Phil Mickelson earned $2,283,611 more than David Duval with a meager scoring average advantage of .16. In 1999, David Duval had a .20 edge in scoring over Davis Love III that resulted in an increase in earnings of $1,166,578. After the 2005 season, Tiger was still the money leader as well as the scoring leader. Tiger was .38 strokes better than the tour's #2 guy in scoring and money, Vijay Singh, and made more than $2.6 million more than Vijay. Overall, Tiger was 25% more efficient by scoring less than half a stroke per round than his top rival. What's more revealing is the difference between the tour's top players. Vijay outscored Jim Furyk, #3 on the tour for stroke average and #4 for money, by only .23 strokes per round. With that trivial difference, Vijay earned more than $3.7 million more than Furyk. These players are still well below Tiger’s scoring average but they’ve taken steps to improve their game just to be able to compete with him. The culture changes when talented people develop themselves.
You may ask about equipment. Certainly there have been advances in golf equipment in the past 10 years and the United States Golf Association has conducted numerous studies on the effects that equipment has had on performance. Each and every study has found that no significant difference in scoring has resulted from the technological advances in golf equipment. Tiger has done what Callaway, Titleist and even Nike couldn’t do: he’s improved the performance of the top players in the world and changed the culture of the PGA.
A superstar like Tiger Woods makes everyone around him better, and it’s not because of his shoes or a sport drink. Tiger’s former swing coach, Butch Harmon, has said Tiger’s advantage comes from his competitive spirit. The top players follow Tiger and work to improve themselves, but they won’t lead. The Tiger Effect is about leadership. Tiger has pulled the best players up to compete with him. They haven’t caught him and the current crop of players probably never will, but their games have improved due to Tiger’s leadership and excellence. The players that will catch and surpass Tiger are probably in high school today.
Undermining The Tiger Effect
A player like Tiger Woods comes once in a generation, but there are a number of superstars in your organization right now. The problem is that their competitive spirit hasn’t been developed. Many business leaders have created a laundry list of debilitating habits when it comes to developing their best people. These habits prevent the best people from leading the rest of your employees to higher levels of productivity. Here’s a short list of attitudes that undermine “The Tiger Effect. "
1. Leave the Best People Alone—Most business leaders are problem solvers and the best people rarely show signs of problems. The fact is that these people are your leaders, and if they aren’t being developed, the rest of your organization will suffer.
2. Don’t Mess With Success—If a group is producing at a high level, why would you mess with them? Because complacency leads to plateaus and then ultimately to failure.
3. Play it Safe—It’s human nature to play not to lose when you’re doing well, but innovation is stifled when you try not to screw things up.
4. Training is for the Mediocre—Training programs are developed for the 70% of your “average” employees. Training companies don’t make money when you make money. They make money when more and more of your people enroll in their programs. Get more bang for your buck by channeling training dollars to your top 15%.
5. Only IQ Matters—Identifying ability by an IQ score, SAT score or school’s reputation is naive. For years, CEOs from companies like Bank of America, Shell Oil, and Verizon Communications have lobbied university presidents to place less weight on SAT scores for admission because they’ve realized that success isn’t based on cognitive intelligence alone.
6. People Don’t Change—It’s not that people don’t change; people can’t change if not given the opportunity. When your best people are developed professionally, your company’s performance will improve dramatically.
Creating The Tiger Effect
The Level Six Leadership Social Operating System has developed performance & leadership programs specifically for the high performers in your company in order to create a performance culture. Our programs are empirically based on a concept that measures how competitive an organization is. It was stated that Tiger Woods’ advantage does not come from his shoes or his sport drink but from his competitive spirit. Level Six Leadership has proven in empirical terms that the competitive spirit can be cultivated and maximized by developing competitive skill sets. The key is to tap into the individual nuances of your best people to create a performance culture.
Creating The Tiger Effect is relatively simple and inexpensive compared to other change management initiatives. As the leader of your organization, you can do two things to get the ball rolling in the right direction. The first has to do with your expectations. Demand that all training programs have an impact on the bottom line. And more importantly, forget the idea that massive behavior change creates significant results. Minor change from your best people creates significant results as illustrated by The Tiger Effect. Leadership is not about adopting a new policy or reconstructing an organizational chart. Leadership is about unlocking the potential of your best people.
High performing companies realize that success is a springboard, not a pedestal. Nurture your most talented people, and your company will grow exponentially through a culture of performance.
You can learn how you can create your own personal Tiger Effect through Level Six Performance: A Gold Medal Formula for Achieving Professional & Personal Success published by Champion Press.
Proving through his work with champion athletes and corporate executives that leadership is a learned skill built upon inherent strengths, Dr. Stephen Long has helped permanently raise corporate and team productivity from adequate - to outstanding. Level Six Leadership™ is a breakthrough social operating system that immediately enhances an organization’s efficiency. Applying his coaching and leadership techniques, Long’s instruction has helped Fortune 500 companies realize a 125% increase in productivity, and golf clients average a sustained 4-stroke improvement.
Long’s method proves performance relies more on learned, deliberate competence much more than natural physical or cognitive ability. Using Level Six Leadership™ techniques, organizations can adapt to stressful and changing business situations as well as any championship team in overtime. Identified as a top-10 performance enhancement specialist in North America in an independent study conducted at the University of Utah, Dr Long is a highly sought after speaker, consultant, executive coach and trainer.