Hot Hand

An expression in basketball to describe a player on a hot scoring streak who feels and appears unable to miss. But for every up side there is a downside,  the top striker who just can’t score, the international  goal keeper who suddenly can’t be relied on to catch a cross. The pundits tell us it’s down to confidence and affects people at whatever level they play. What’s not clear is why people suddenly lose confidence and how they regain it. Received wisdom is that form is temporarily where as class Is permanent meaning a skilful player retains that ability and any drop in performance will be short lived. But why can’t we retain that self belief, why can’t we be on a life long hot streak? 

The hot hand is not something unique to sport, in business and in commerce there are similar experiences, the City knows all about investment bankers on a hot streak. Less dramatically managers are performers and they to experience those times when all decisions are right decisions, all outcomes are intended and events pan out as expected. The opposite is also true. And the question is the same how do you sustain a hot streak and how do you get out of a slump?

Well one way is to reduce risk, if you always play it safe you will avoid any dramatic errors but you will also never hit the heights. Put another way the difference between your high performance and low performance will be so small no one will notice. This is a form of consistency but not the consistency that coaches speak off. 

 

So it comes down to self belief and the type of manager you want to be, a safe pair of hands or one with Hot Hands. 

 

Blair McPherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk 

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