“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
– Rush, Freewill
Indecision is a choice.
Indecision is also a common leadership mistake, one I think coaches make too often. Making strong decisions is not easy. You have to make sure you are informed. You want to be unemotional when you make the decision. If you have a staff, you want to get their opinion.
You also know that as a coach, your decisions carry significant weight. They will have an impact not only on your team, but your decisions can make a major difference in the lives of your players. You don’t make any meaningless decisions. And the scoreboard is public. Every decision affects your team and can lead to wins and losses. There is no hiding from the pressure that comes from making decisions.
I come across many teams and coaches that suffer from indecision. A tough choice has to be made, and the most comfortable thing to do is not to make one. Let’s see how it plays out. Maybe it will work itself out. Let’s not do anything drastic. It’s comfortable being indecisive because you don’t have to own it. As long as you haven’t made a decision, it’s not on you. It’s on the players who are in the middle of the situation. It’s a go-to comfort zone for many leaders.
There is a lot of insecurity in leadership, and certainly in coaching. I’ve seen a lot of leaders afraid to make a tough decision because they either don’t know how, or don’t want to handle the consequences. To make the right decisions, you have to be well-informed, you have to have the pulse of your team, and you have to know the personalities on your team. You have to be really invested and strong in your convictions. It’s not easy. But it is leadership.
One of the teams I coaches at RIC that struggled during the regular season (by our standards) had a player on the team who struggled with adversity. He was one of our best players, a starter on the team and a veteran presence. But when things didn’t go his way, he struggled to handle it.
I managed the situation the entire year, thinking I was doing the right thing by the team. The situation needed a decision – either you are bought in, or you are out – but I didn’t make one. My choice was indecision.
When the year was over, I realized in talking to the team that it had a significant effect on them. My indecision was clearly a choice. We were going to put up with his issues, because he was a good player. And it hurt our team. Luckily, before it was too late I made the decision to remove him from the team, and we went on to win our conference tournament and go back to the NCAAs.
Your team can be paralyzed by indecision. I’m not saying jump to conclusions or make rash decisions. But when you have a situation, deal with it. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.