Can you stand behind a decision you made, even if you don’t get the right result? It might be the toughest challenge for a head coach.
I’ve learned over my years as a head coach – and I’m 100% convinced – that the best way to get the results is to distance yourself from them. But we are surrounded by pressure and our scoreboard is public. It’s not easy. But once your decisions are made based on the outcome, your team will come to understand that as well. The process will suffer, and your team will be convinced that the result is key, no matter how they get there.
We often put so much pressure on ourselves to win that we lose sight of the process. When we win a game we see things a little bit differently, and we evaluate the process with a positive spin to justify what we did because we won. It’s natural to feel good when you win, but it’s easy to lose a clear view of your approach and send the wrong message to your team.
Most head coaches give off a clear signal after a win or a loss. Tone, approach, demeanor is all affected. Remember, your players don’t have to hear it to know it. What you do is so loud, they can’t hear what you say. If you are joking, laughing and clearly loose after a win, it sends a certain message. If you are pissed off and short with them after a loss, the message is just as clear. The result is what matters. They will know that getting a win is all that matters, and they’ll try and take short cuts to get there if they can.
Be aware of your demeanor and approach after wins and losses. Recognize the message you send with tone, and the impact of that message. If you made a change in the lineup and you played pretty well, but you took a loss, evaluate the way you played. If you get a W but the changes you made didn’t really click, do the same. Don’t jump to conclusions about the decisions you made and the result you got. Evaluate how you played and how your team responded.
We are often a different person after a win than we are after a loss, whether we know it or not. Evaluating the process is hard, because your mind almost always gets influenced by the result. But to get your team to perform consistently at a high level, you have to separate the two. Study the process and build confidence in what it should look like. Your team will see how you operate, and they will follow suit.