5 Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Hockey Captains

We are in the middle of the National Hockey League Stanley Cup Playoffs. I am a huge hockey fan! I have not missed any of the playoff games this season. I watch the game for more than the love of the game. I do it to watch how leaders lead their teams. The leaders on the team are normally the Captains and Alternate Captains. They are the extension of the coach. I wrote about hockey captains as leaders before – here it is! I have made some mental notes from the last couple of games and the captains for the Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and Vancouver Canucks. They are great examples of what the five things I have learned from hockey captains.

  • Credibility is the foundation.
  • Lead by example or you don’t lead at all.
  • Challenge provides opportunities for greatness.
  • Leaders are team players.
  • Caring is at the heart of leadership.

Credibility is the foundation. Credible leaders walk the talk, practice what they preach, are consistent in word and deed, put their money where their mouth is, and follow through on promises.  Watching the playoffs, each captain has walked the talk – they have definitely been out in front of the media discussing the games and what they and the team will do in the next game. I have listened closely to each of them and watched their actions live up to those words.

Lead by example or you don’t lead at all. This is where the words turn to action or they equal the do part. You have to do what you say.. Not just say it. Wish it or hope for it. Each one of those captains have stepped onto the ice and have delivered on their words with true actions. It is hard to stay on top of every shift in every period inevery game – but they do it.

Challenges provides opportunities for greatness. What better stage for any player. You are attempting to win the oldest trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. You have all hockey fans watching your every move. Who will step up and be the best? That person that steps up and does more than just score, play defense or stops pucks. That person is the leader of that team. He is the captain and the eyes of his team mates are on him everyday. That is what true leaders live for. Give me the stage to do what I do – everyday.

Leaders are team players. Look at the team. Watch closely during the game, how much ice time, how many times the persons name is mentioned by the announcers. Who is in the middle of everything? It is that leader, that captain – the extension of the coach and
the coaching staff. They normally are the face of the team. But, first and most important they are team players. They look to make their team mates better.

Caring is at the heart of leadership. During the playoffs, everyone cares about winning the Stanley Cup. It is every players dream to have their name put on the Stanley
Cup. When I watch the captains during the pregame, game and post game – they wear the emotions on their sleeve. Not about winning only, but it all about the team and each and every person inside the team organization.

If you are a hockey fan or not, watch a couple of games and pay close attention to the captains of each of the teams. Listen to them, watch them do what they say, rise to
greatness and care about their team mates, coaching staff and the overall organization. They are wonderful examples for any leader to follow. You can easily do these things in your leadership role. I know, I practice these all the time. Just a solid foundation…

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  • Watching Joe Thornton playing tonight – showed his overall toughness, credibility, teamwork and above all his overall leadership. Was he is usually self – not at all. He was a great teammate and leader.