20.Apr.2015 Gary Andersen, Charismatic Leader?
This isn’t going to be a popular topic, but I’ve been reading and attending lectures on how the brain works, and it got me to seeing patterns in how some of it relates to Gary Andersen.
So we all know the reported red flags:
1. He couldn’t get along with the AD.
2. He moves around a lot
3. He says it’s all about the kids, then continually bails on the kids.
We’ve heard these.
Yet, we are all bullish on Andersen. Myself included. Why? Well for one, he is a man with a plan. I think that’s the main reason. But he also has charisma and appears to be a straight shooter (though we know that is false based on his past history). He’s also opposite of Riley. All of this conspires to make us more bullish/biased than objective observers.
This blog does a good job describing how people are easily hypnotized by charisma.
One area that I find particularly interesting is how different parts of our brain can be suppressed at different times. We can “turn off” our critical thinking, for example.
Neuroscience and psychology have combined to theorize (strongly) that group dynamics is the dominating factor in group delusion. The individual members of a group surrender their will to a charismatic leader. Humans are wired to turn off their critical thinking mechanism when faced with a charismatic leader. If you reflect on your own life and think, “How did I vote for x?” or “How did I fall for that?”, you probably are a victim of your critical thinking skills breaking down and you falling for someone charismatic.
Now do I think this is happening with Andersen? Yes and no. I think Beaver fans are probably overly bullish on him because (a) their reference point was Riley and (b) he is charismatic, and this naturally breaks down our critical thinking skills.
On the flipside, Nebraska fans have deluded themselves into thinking Riley is the answer, despite the majority not liking the hire at first. But they found ways to justify it.
Am I criticizing Andersen before he’s coached a game? No. Let’s make that clear so we don’t get into the inevitable (CJ) strawmen of “Angry, Andersen is great and you just want to complain” or “Angry he hasn’t even coached a game!” or “Angry, anyone is better than Riley” (which is a fallacy, obviously). Anyway, let’s be clear: I think Anderson is great (but this is what scares me…has my critical thinking been turned off due to his charisma and my anti-Riley bias?).
I think we’re all in wait and see mode with a lot of enthusiasm. That’s fine. I just hope we’re not being suckered by charisma. If you listen to the players speak, they all talk about “buying in”, conformity emphasized, “us vs them” mindset…that is group think/cult mindset. It’s good, and healthy to some degree, for a football team to buy in and have these traits, but it also shows the coach has the charisma to make it happen, and thus disarm us as well. Just keep that in mind. I like Andersen, but something I can’t exactly pinpoint does give me mild unease or agita. This is a public service announcement rather than a call to criticize Andersen.
Additionally, I think everyone would serve themselves well to study the mind. It helps realize how poorly we calculate things like probability, perception, emotions, etc. For example, the odds of the same person winning a lottery twice are something like 1 in 30, yet when we see it happen, most view it as an almost religious experience. Emotions blur everything and completely turn off objectivity, rationality, etc. As we move into the Andersen era, with this charismatic man-on-a-mission coach, let’s just keep this all in mind and be on the lookout. Again, I am not criticizing the guy, so here’s a preemptive “shut your GD pie hole, CJ, et al.”