Condoleezza Rice: Changing The World, One First At A Time

In this episode of Corporate Competitor Podcast, one of Augusta National Golf Club’s first two women members traces her trailblazing career in politics, sports administration and academics to the talent that transcends then all — building bridges.

You may know Condoleezza Rice as the National Security Advisor for President George W. Bush during the September 11 terror attacks or the first Black woman to be Secretary of State—or maybe you know her because of her leadership at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. If you’re a sports wonk, you may even recall her as one of 13 charter members of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP) that picks the teams to compete in the national championship playoffs.

But as we draw nearer to April and the arrival of the greatest golf tournament on Earth, the Master’s at Augusta National Golf Club, it is fitting that we also remember how, in 2012, Rice became one of the first two women admitted as a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters is played.

When, at the age of 50, Condoleezza Rice developed a passion for the game of golf, she immersed herself in it as totally as she had everything else in her life. But it wasn’t the quality of her short game or deft fades that made Augusta come calling. It was her record of leadership as a gifted educator and stateswoman and master builder of bridges—between people, organizations and even countries—that decided the matter of putting change on the menu at the venerable club.

“If you are deciding that you’re going to try to play the role of bringing people together, bridging differences, you have to take your own ego aside for a bit,” noted Rice, who now directs Stanford’s Hoover Institution, a public policy think tank. “Rather than impose my views, my role is to listen very carefully to everybody and to see if I can hear things that might suggest there are common beliefs here or common ways of seeing this that aren’t being recognized.”

Rice makes listening sound easy, but in this episode of our podcast, she reveals herself as a true competitor: one who has excelled at applying what she has learned with a steady and quiet confidence that is extraordinary by any measure. She also reveals some of the secret sauce behind her unique leadership style, which includes:

• Four questions every great leader can ask to assess her team’s competitive standing.

• How serving on the CFP taught Rice to move beyond analytics and assess teams “with a coach’s eye.”

• What often builds teams up and what always threatens to tear them down.

Rice describes her membership at Augusta as “the most wonderful experience for all kinds of reasons.” Not the least of these have been the Club’s dedication to changing the game, changing the face of the game and changing access to the game.

Rice has gone about effecting change in her own way and from the inside. “My dad was not only a great sports mind but also a great bridge builder as a teacher,” Rice pointed out. “Both my parents really taught me that while it’s great to have talents and gifts and resources, if you’re not reaching across the aisle and giving back, then it’s not working.”

You will learn:

• 12:00  Behind the scenes of the College Football Playoff Committee (CFP).

• 15:00  How to be a better listener and recognize common ground.

• 25:00  The moment she was invited to join Augusta National Golf Club.

• 28:00  What she learned playing golf with Bubba Watson.

• 34:00  How to turn a group of individuals into a team.

• 36:00  How to eliminate gossip on your team.

• 37:00  How to prevent “losing the locker room.”


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