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What Makes A Good Club Manager?

I was asked this question the other day. And to be honest, put on the spot, it stumped me. After blurting out some cliché about breadth and depth of knowledge, I reflected, researched and more succinctly have come up with the following:-

To be a good club manager you need to make good decisions, manage the club’s culture and financial health, invest in appropriate relationships and avoid serious lapses.

It’s still a bit ethereal but leads to the important question of what equips someone to do these things and manage a club well.

Some suggest that IQ is a key element. After all, it has been shown that people with high IQs go on to do better academically and in their careers. However, many of us know intellectual giants who make poor decisions and judgements. And that’s why Critical Thinking is being recognised as possibly an even more important element.

Critical Thinking, the ability to make considered decisions and judgements, rationally and without false conclusions, is a separate ability. And, contrary to popular belief, being intelligent or logical does not automatically make you a critical thinker.

Managers with high IQs are still prone to biases, complacency, overconfidence, and stereotyping that affect the quality of their thoughts and performance inside and outside the club. But those who exhibit critical thinking traits (analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making) experience fewer negative encounters.

To foster a critical thinking environment in your club, you’ll need to identify and understand what prevents people from doing so in the first place. Catching yourself (and others) engaging in these critical thinking barriers can help prevent costly mistakes and improve your quality of work and life.

Egocentric Thinking

Egotism, or viewing everything in relation to yourself, is a natural human tendency and a common barrier to critical thinking. It often leads to an inability to question one’s own beliefs, sympathise with others, or consider different perspectives.

Egocentricity is an inherent character flaw. Understand that, and you’ll gain the open-minded point of view required to assess situations outside your own lens of understanding.

Social Conditioning

Everyone wants to feel like they belong. It’s a basic survival instinct and the psychological mechanism that ensures the survival of our species. Historically, humans banded together to survive in the wild against predators and each other. That desire to “fit in” persists today as social conditioning, or the tendency to agree with the majority and suppress independent thoughts and actions.

Overcoming social conditioning requires the courage to break free from the crowd. It means questioning popular thought, culturally embedded values, and belief systems in a detached and objective manner.

Drone Mentality

Turning on “autopilot” and going through the motions can lead to a lack of awareness. This is known as drone mentality, and it’s not only detrimental to you but to those around you, as well.

Studies show that monotony and boredom are bad for mental health. Cognitive fatigue caused by long-term mental activity without appropriate stimulation, like an unchanging daily routine full of repetitive tasks, negatively impairs cognitive functioning and critical thinking.

Although it can be tempting and easy to flip on autopilot, as a critical thinker you need to challenge yourself to make new connections and find fresh ideas. Adopt different schools of thought. Keep your approaches and interactions with your colleagues exciting and innovative, which will promote an environment of critical thinking.

Personal Biases

Everyone internalises certain beliefs, opinions, and attitudes that manifest as personal biases. You may feel that you’re open-minded, but these subconscious judgements are more common than most people realise. They can distort your thinking patterns and sway your decision-making in the following ways:

  • Confirmation bias: favouring information that reinforces your existing viewpoints and beliefs

  • Anchoring bias: being overly influenced by the first piece of information you come across

  • False consensus effect: believing that most people share your perspective

  • Normalcy bias: assuming that things will stay the same despite significant changes to the status quo

The critical thinking process requires being aware of personal biases that affect your ability to rationally analyse a situation and make sound decisions.

Allostatic Overload

Research shows that persistent stress causes a phenomenon known as allostatic overload. It’s a severe state, that affects your attention span, memory, mood, and even physical health.

When under pressure, your brain is forced to channel energy into the section responsible for processing necessary information at the expense of taking a rest. That’s why people experience memory lapses in fight-or-flight situations. Prolonged stress also reduces activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that handles executive tasks.

Avoiding cognitive impairments under pressure begins by remaining as calm and objective as possible. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath and slow your thoughts. Assume the role of a third-party observer. Analyse and evaluate what can be controlled instead of what can’t.

One of the modules in the Club Managers Leadership and Management program – “Develop Critical Thinking in Others”, explores these areas and many others as part of building club manager knowledge. We also run webinars that provide food for thought and practical applications for clubs to enhance critical and creative skill sets.

For more information and to register for our upcoming webinar please visit,


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