Leadership Lessons from the World of Sports

Whether or not you’re a hockey fan, which I am, and whether or not you’re a fan of the Los Angeles Kings, which I am not, it was surely exciting to see the members of the Kings raise the Stanley Cup last night for the first time in over 40 years in LA. To make matters even more exciting, this was the first time in the history of the National Hockey League that a team seeded 8th won the Cup.

The reason I bring this to your attention is that there are many business lessons to be learned from this event. First, if you’ve read Unshackled Leadership, Building Businesses Based  on Faith, Trust, Possibility and Abundance, available at www.UnshackledLeadership.com, you know that my definition of a successful organization is a group of enthusiastic, confident, optimistic, appreciative and happy people who work together on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to. The Kings totally met that definition. And it shows what can be accomplished when that happens, even if you don’t have the best talent, which they arguably don’t have.

I would venture to say that in any team sport, most of the time, the winning team is the one that best exemplifies that definition of success. Yet, most people simply do not see the application to business, even though we find it is critical. We have consistently demonstrated over 27+ years that when a group of people in an organization work together with a high degree of teamwork on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to, the results are nothing short of amazing.

Unfortunately, most organizations seem to focus on almost everything other than teamwork and aligning on a vision. It’s so common for a company to spend weeks and weeks doing a S.W.O.T. analysis and then use the gathered information to develop a strategic plan. (In case you don’t know what that is, the letters stand for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats).

Just think about that. Companies spend an enormous amount of time gathering information and developing a plan and then they often totally ignore what is most critical to making any of that information or plan useful, and that is whether or not their employees are enthusiastic, confident, optimistic, appreciative and happy. And more than likely, they’re not. Job satisfaction in the United States is at an all time low with over 50% of employees being unhappy at work. And to make matters worse, the same number of employees or more have no idea what the vision of the company is other than to make money for the owners..

So, if you have management responsibility in your company, stop worrying so much about your S.W.O.T., your plans, the economy and your competitors and all of the other extraneous and irrelevant factors, even though you likely don’t believe any of that, and focus on what is really important, i.e. team development, employee involvement, employee morale and whatever else is necessary to satisfy the definition of success I gave above. Then, perhaps, you and your employees can raise your version of the Stanley Cup.

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