Handling the pressure to be a leader in your field

Danny Willett’s remarkable triumph in golf’s Masters at Augusta was also a lesson in how to cope with pressure situations. Sporting Edge spoke to Ryder Cup-winning captain Paul McGinley about how that translates to business and whether there are key messages in there for any candidate chasing a top role.

Paul McGinley stresses the importance of staying in the moment, clearing your mind of what’s gone before, and focusing on the next challenge. This is easier said than done but sporting champions need to insulate themselves from the emotion of winning and losing and focusing on the next shot.

In his exclusive interview with Sporting Edge, McGinley outlines some key points which could apply to business. We think they apply to candidates too.

These include “pre-hearsing” pressure situations and creating “what-if” scenarios. McGinley believes that is more than just visualisation and actually preparation is the key.

The Irishman also says that it is important to stay in the moment and not look too far ahead. He adds: “If the worst scenario came true, your mind would probably start to spin out of control worrying what everyone will say, fearing the consequences and shame of failure. All of those things lie way in the distance, you have a series of activities ahead of you so draw your focus to the present and to what’s in your control. A rival’s performance is out of your control but immersing yourself in the mechanics of what you need to do next is key.”

McGinley, calling on his experience of playing at the top and managing players in pressure situations, also underlines that “high performance isn’t about staying safe, it’s about staying focused when the pressure rises. So as your mind spins, your heart rate will probably pick up and your mannerisms will speed up to get the performance ‘out of the way’.”

And that’s the same whether it’s a shot over water at Augusta or an interview. He offers some practical advice – “Your breathing is a good starting place, deep breathing tells your brain that the threat has gone and ensures that oxygen is getting to your brain. Your slower movements across the stage or tee-box will also bring a feeling of calm control – just what you need at this career defining moment.”

For more on McGinley’s views, click here.

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Sporting Edge is a high-performance consultancy which solves business challenges using the winning mindset from sport. Having worked with and interviewed many of the world’s leading sports leaders and teams, Sporting Edge has created a game changing digital library of insights to inspire and educate businesses and industry professionals on the requirements needed to achieve success in business through performance.

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