In the change leadership book, Journey to Newland: a Roadmap for Transformational Change, a coalition of diverse friends decide to leave the familiar turf of Oldland, overcome resistance to change, and make the challenging journey to Newland.

This weekend at the 2021 Ryder Cup, spectators witnessed a coalition of a dozen diverse athletes come together to win by the widest margin ever in Ryder Cup history. The United States routed Europe 19-9 at Whistling Straits on the coast of Lake Michigan on Sunday in the 43rd playing of the event. On Day 1, the United States took a 6-2 lead. Many golf observers felt the competition was over when the U.S. tacked on three more points on Saturday morning, including one when Jordan Spieth raised his putter to the sky as an eagle dropped on the 16th hole.

Some thought it was over when Bryson DeChambeau got up and down from 354 yards at the first hole against Sergio Garcia on Sunday and beat Garcia’s birdie with an eagle, or Collin Morikawa hit an iron from 221 yards on the 17th to within three feet of the cup to win the hole. Then history hung in the balance when Brooks Koepka almost scored a hole-in-one eagle on 17 late in the day.

Nobody expected this result. Before the Ryder Cup journey even started, Captain Steve Stricker found himself navigating internal competition – feuds between Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau and squabbles among players and leaders alike. Some questioned whether Stricker had lost control of the team.

And yet, Stricker insisted that this U.S. team was the best of all time. How did he do it? Golf is an individual sport. Players have their own routines, styles, approaches, and expectations. How does a leader unlock individual talent and unite a diverse group of talented individuals into such a formidable coalition?

  1. Recruit a mentor

In our Journey to Newland story, the visionary leader saw a change coming that required everyone to leave Oldland. He recruited a mentor to guide him through the challenges ahead and gave her the freedom to speak candidly and honestly even when it hurt. Stricker recruited golf legends Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to serve as mentors and they agreed. It was the first Ryder Cup in nearly three decades that neither played. Mentors play an invaluable role. Find one for your team.

  1. Choose character over competency

It is natural to seek out those who have the best scores, the biggest budget, or the highest title. It is optimal to select those with the most integrity, who value team results over individual results, and who share your values. Stricker valued teamwork and collaborative culture and in turn eschewed better golfers who would tear apart the culture he was building. Resist the urge to pursue the natural. Go with the optimal.

  1. Lead with respect

J2N’s unique change solution is centered on three core principles – Respect, Trust, and Influence. And it all starts with respect. We teach that there are 2 components of respect that Stricker modeled to his team. He had spent two years showing respect to the players and earning their trust. The results speak for themselves. They trusted their leader, played their best for him, and are lobbying for his return as the 2023 captain.

Leaders like Stricker build cultures that people are eager to join. They attract the best people. They foster the least attrition. They lead with respect.

For practical ways to navigate change, transitions, or create transformational leadership in your organization, contact us at Find out how we can help you.

Rick Cobb is angel investor and board member of J2N Global.