How many conversations or discussions are made with a boss/manager/colleague which begin with the immortal line ‘Just a word..’?! A simple enough request but one that inevitable means that at the end of the conversation the person collared will have to make a decision. Nor just the obvious starters; who, what, where, when, how but can, will, should etc! To rise to the top of professional sport management requires those in those positions to be good decision makers; fail to do so and you won’t have to make them for long.

Of course, in more complex management structures there are more people to delegate decisions to; middle-managers or heads of department. Hopefully trusted individuals who know the decision making style of those in charge and judge accordingly. For these managers, the decision making task can be simplified into choices; perhaps just simples yes or no! All of the other permutations have been worked out and the best solutions presented!


For those lower down in the decision making structure, knowing how to approach decision makers relies on knowledge of the person managing (their style and personality) and experience in taking on decisions that don’t need to be escalated. Knowing what constitutes your ‘paygrade’ of decision making is important. Failure to make decisions at your level can show a lack of confidence or commitment. The opposite also applies; don’t bite off more than you can chew or the consequences could be serious!

When presenting a problem to a higher-level decision maker it is perhaps apt to have already sorted the wheat from the chaff and offer no more than 2 (with a third in reserve should the other two be unpalatable) solutions to the problem. This poses a simple choice. Any more than this can muddy the waters. Ensure though that you have considered all likely outcomes for whatever solution is chosen. A simple solving of a previous problem should not lead to a more serious one!!


Consider the questions/decisions that may come across the bows of a Premier League football manager everyday. Here’s some for you to consider (outside of the simple personal ones of what to wear, which car to drive or what to eat for breakfast!):

  • Training: Who is available to train, who is suspended, international duty players, loan players, What type of training; duration, intensity, specificity, tactical/technical, motivational
  • Injuries: Who is injured, how long will they be injured, time to return, games schedule
  • Scouting: Opposition for future matches, recruitment, reflection on last performances
  • Player Liaison: dealing with dropped players, selling/buying players, loans, agents, CEOs
  • Player Development: Adherence & Application, Commitment, Bench Marking
  • Medium & Long Term Planning: Staff, Player & Football Department Development
  • Media: Interviews for radio, TV, Print, Web, Magazines

So consider that all of the staff in all of the departments will be asked to present their thoughts on many or all of these subjects and you can see that throughout the course of the day, every conversation held will more than likely be one where you get asked to present your decision making skills. And, most of the time, they will be acted upon!

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