"Leading & Managing" by Michael Kernicki of Canterbury GC

May 23, 2011

Michael Kernicki is the Head Professional at famed Canterbury GC in Beachwood, Ohio. He was hired in January of 2009 and is only the sixth Head Professional in Canterbury's storied history, which includes Henry Picard (1938 Masters champion and 1939 PGA champion). Canterbury GC hosted the 1932 Western Open won by Walter Hagen, the 1940 U.S. Open won by Lawson Little, the 1964 U.S. Amateur Championship, the 1973 PGA Championship (Jack Nicklaus's record breaking 14th major title), and the 2009 Senior PGA Championship. Michael is in a unique place that allows him to hone in on his leadership ability and operate a world class operation. We hope you enjoy his insights on the topic of "Leading & Managing".

True Leadership

A wise man once told me, “You can be a leader without being a manager, but you cannot be a manager without being a leader”.

The nature of rising up the ladder in the club professional career automatically categorizes you as a manager. If you rise the ladder, succeed from one position and improve your career to the next position you are obviously an effective manager. I believe true Leaders are those successful individuals who can see the big picture and can articulate to their teams, the masses, associations, etc. a clear direction. The leader is one his team wants to follow because they can see success. The leader who is an effective manager succeeds because he exudes the confidence in the way he conducts himself and his business so much so that his team is comfortable and follows.

The Goal

Leading your team to success, let’s say at a private golf club or country club, can be achieved by understanding the direction given by the Board or General Manager of the Club, implementing that direction through close interaction with your team, clear communication, setting goals and having your team set goals that are measurable, while creating an atmosphere that is fun and driven to succeed. I state that the goal of our golf operation is to be the “benchmark by which others measure themselves”. Is that true, do we succeed at that? Clear communication with everyone on my team to understand what that statement means, all of us on the same page, committed to that goal, gives us a chance to reach that goal.

Driven to Succeed

My Assistants can definitely be leaders and yes they are managers. I want people on my team that are driven to succeed. With that attitude they will definitely be on top of their game day in and day out. They want to succeed, they want to move up the ladder in their career and therefore they will strive to reach our goal as a team while constantly bringing new ideas to the table as to how we can get better. If you are just doing the same thing each year…you do not move forward.

Staff Advancement

I allow my Assistants to be responsible for certain events, programs, etc. They are the point person and I want to be led by them in certain tasks regarding an event or program. If they are getting off the track or off message, then as the leader and manager of the entire department I bring them back and clear the focus. I want my more tenured professionals to be leaders, or should I say “mentors”, to the assistant professionals and interns under them. My job is to train them all, at the various stages of their development, to achieve our goals, their own goals, and when they are ready to move them into their own leader and manager position so they can do the same to their staff.

Live and Learn

At the end to the day, we are not curing cancer here or performing brain surgery. Will we make mistakes? Yes we will. Will those mistakes be totally costly to the overall effort – No. Will we learn from them – Yes. And, we will use what we learn to become better. Clear communication, taking pride in what we do, being on the cutting edge in our profession, and exemplifying that to the managerial team of the club, my board of directors, and my members will help us reach our goal. Therefore, they are all proud of their golf operation under my direction. Therefore, I am successful!