Decisions Decisions; to be a strong leader, you need to be confident making decisions

When working in most environments there are choices to be made, ideas to be communicated, and actions to be taken. Most of the time, these decisions will have an impact on others; not just the athletes, but the rest of the coaching staff, the support staff, and even the caretakers.


As a younger coach, I very rarely communicated my thoughts around my choices. I thought to look competent and have others trust me I needed to look confident and did this my being fearless in my decision making. As I grew in experience I realised the importance of sharing the background to why I was making the choices. I believed this created a better communication pathway and support for the decisions I made. I even became so gracious as to allow others to air their opinions to me and then make my choices. It is only recently I have realised there is one crucial pea in the proverbial mattress…. it is still me deciding. I am a dictator; whether I want to be this kind of coach or not. 


13 NOV 2011: Head Coach Shannon Hlebichuk (second from left), and her assitant coaches Kerry Dudley, Chelsey Feole and Sammy Macy of the University of Massachusetts- Lowell shout to their players while playing West Chester University during the Division II Women’s Field Hockey Championship held at Sports Stadium on the Bloomsburg University campus in Bloomsburg, PA. West Chester defeated UMASS-Lowell 2-1 to win the national title. Bradley C. Bower/NCAA Photos


The problem with this is, when it comes to building a team atmosphere and a united group, I fall short of the mark. People like options. I like options. I am an individual with my own back story as to why I prefer one thing over another.
So the challenge is, how do you provide options without losing unity? THIS is the next step. This is the real challenge, the coup de grâce. As a coach, how good are you at providing options that still support and are aligned with the over all goal?  I’ve realised that to be a strong leader, you need to be confident making decisions. You also need to be willing to listen to others and take on board their views. However, to be a truly exceptional leader, I now believe you should also have the skill to provide real options to allow others to make their own decisions.
This will create a truly unique environment where the outcome is a real reflection of the group as individuals; an outcome that is greater than the sum of the parts.This is where individuals can feel more comfortable without feeling like they are being forced into something that doesn’t work for them, or feel bad for letting the team down. A culture where creativity is supported, but with enough structure to not become chaos. The image that comes to mind is fractals; “A fractal is an object or quantity that displays self-similarity, in a somewhat technical sense, on all scales. The object need not exhibit exactly the same structure at all scales, but the same “type” of structures must appear on all scales.”An environment where each part has the same statistical character as the whole but is complex in its make up.
My challenge from now on will be to develop my skills in providing genuine options for those I work with which still support the outcome I believe to be important for achieving the end goal.

Jools Murray 2Bio: Jools is an accredited Strength & Conditioning coach from Canada and has worked with some of the World’s best athletes in the UK and her home country.  Currently working at the University of Toronto, (Canada) with a number of sport, Jools previously worked with the English Institute of Sport whilst studying for her Masters in S&C, as well as coaching the U23 GB Ultimate Frisbee Team.

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