Hi Everyone and welcome back to the Hockey Journey Podcast, episode number 74, Leadership (Part 2), Presented to you by Online Hockey Training dot com. I'm your host Coach Lance Pitlick. If you're new here, please make sure you subscribe, so you won't miss out on any future episodes.
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As the first snowfall of the winter has been deposited here in Minnesota, that can mean only one thing, the hockey season has begun. Being around the game of hockey my whole life, for a majority of the years, I was tied to a team each season, as a player till 32 years of age or as a youth hockey coach for 17 years after that.
A hockey season can have so many story lines by spring time. Individuals and teams might have nothing but success and flow the entire year, but that would be the experience of the minority, as most of us travel a road that is packed with extremes in the next 4 to 6 month that will test our character and resolve.
I remember being on or coaching several teams, where I thought we really had a chance to do some damage, only to have the team be decimated by injury or sickness at critical times where we couldn't recover. Covid was the perfect example of this, as it forced teams to not think too far in the future, and they learned how to really battle when their backs were up against the wall.
During some of these tough stretches, there are some positives and new characters that emerge, as top players may be out, a secondary player gets more minutes, opportunity and all of the sudden flourishes and takes their game to another level.
I never noticed it as a player, but as coach, you see things from a different perspective. As I worked my way up to the older levels of coaching, peewee, bantam and high school, it became pretty consistent, there are 2 types of players, players who lead and players who don't.
Leaders are not better hockey players than non-leaders. Some verbally lead, by being the funny guy, the chatterbox and always keeps things light. Others lead by an incredible work ethic in practices and games. But where you really saw who the leaders weren't, was when in a high pressure cooker tournament or rival game and it goes into overtime.
There are players who say they want to be on the ice, a chance to be the hero, but they really don't and would prefer to be a spectator over possibly being the goat. But there's another group of players who want to be on the ice. They have a different confidence that sets them apart, and I don't know if it's because they aren't scared or nervous, or have they figured out that if you want to have a chance at the big prize or moment, you have to be willing to risk it all.
Sometimes the moment is a pass, shot or save. Other times it could be making a diving clearing play, or standing in front of a slap shot in the dying seconds. All big moments take courage to accept the challenge and do the best you possibly can do.
Some of you out there may already be on a path of leadership, others maybe haven't thought about it much, until now. What I'd like to do with the rest of this episode, is share with you some quotes from some books that helped me learn more about what leadership is and how to acquire more leadership qualities. I considered myself a quiet lead by example type player, but by no means am I an expert in the field. But, there are many that have made the topic of leadership their life's work and I'd like to share with you some of their most important and impactful findings, with the hope that the wisdom you're about to hear will help you become a little better version of yourself!
For the following books I'm going to reference, know that I'm only scratching the surface of all the learning nuggets in each of the titles. If something resonates with you from a certain book, by the end of this episode, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of your own and read it in its entirety. I'll put the links to each of the titles in the description. Ready to get our leadership on? Let's begin.
Book Number One
On Becoming a Leader
By Warren Bennis
“On Becoming a Leader is based on the assumption that leaders are people who are able to express themselves fully. By this I mean that they know who they are, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how to fully deploy their strengthsand compensate for their weaknesses. They also know what they want, why they want it, and how to communicate what they want to others, in order to gain their cooperation and support. Finally, they know how to achieve their goals. The keyto full self-expression is understanding one’s self and the world, and the key to understanding is learning—from one’s own life and experience. Becoming a leader isn’t easy, just as becoming a doctor or a poet isn’t easy, and those who claim otherwise are fooling themselves. But learning to lead is a lot easier than most of us think it is, because each of us contains the capacity for leadership. … At bottom, becoming a leader is synonymous with becoming yourself. It’s precisely that simple, and it’s also that difficult. So let’s get started.” (End Quote)
LEADERSHIP: LET’S START WITH THE BASICS (V + P + I + T + C + D)
“Leaders come in every size, shape, and disposition—short, tall, neat, sloppy, young, old, male, and female. Nevertheless, they all seem to share some, if not all, of the following ingredients:
• The first basic ingredient of leadership is a guiding vision. The leader has a clear idea of what he or she wants to do—professionally and personally—and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failures. Unless you know where you’re going, and why, you cannot possibly get there. ...
• The second basic ingredient of leadership is passion—the underlying passion for the promises of life, combined with a very particular passion for a vocation, a profession, a course of action. The leader loves what he or she does and loves doing it. ...
• The next basic ingredient of leadership is integrity. I think there are three essential parts of integrity: self-knowledge, candor, and maturity. ...
• Integrity is the basis of trust, which is not as much an ingredient of leadership as it is a product. It is the one quality that cannot be acquired, but must be earned. ...
• Two more ingredients of leadership are curiosity and daring. Leaders wonder about everything, want to learn as much as they can, are willing to take risks, experiment, try new things. They do not worry about failure, but embrace errors, knowing they will learn from them. Learning from adversity is another theme that comes up again and again in this book, often with different spins.”
Bennis continues: “Broad education, boundless curiosity, boundless enthusiasm, contagious optimism, belief in people and teamwork, willingness to take risks, devotion to long-term growth rather than short-term profit, commitment to excellence, adaptive capacity, empathy, authenticity, integrity and vision.” (End Quote)
SELF-INVENTION = KEY TO LEADERSHIP
“I cannot stress too much the need for self-invention. To be authentic is literally to be your own author (the words derive from the same Greek root), to discover your own native energies and desires, and then to find your own way of acting on them. When you’ve done that, you are not existing simply in order to live up to an image posited by the culture or by some other authority or by a family tradition. When you write your own life, then no matter what happens, you have played the game that was natural for you to play. ... it is your task to break out of such limits and live up to your potential, to keep the covenant with your youthful dreams.” (End Quote)
LEADERS TRUST THEIR “BLESSED IMPULSE” (DO YOU?)
“A part of whole-brain thinking includes learning to trust what Emerson called the ‘blessed impulse,’ the hunch, the vision that shows you in a flash the absolutely right thing to do. Everyone has these visions; leaders learn to trust them. I want to remind you here of something Norman Lear said regarding the profound influence that Emerson’s Self-Reliance had on his growth as a leader: ‘Emerson talks about listening to that inner voice and going with it, all voices to the contrary. I don’t know when I started to understand that there was something divine about that inner voice—I certainly didn’t in high school, college, or even in young manhood—but somewhere along the line, I appreciated that, too. How is it possible that as a writer I can go to bed a thousand times with a second act problem and wake up with the answer? Some inner voice. To go with that—which I confess I don’t do all the time—is the purest, truest thing we have. And when we forgo our own thoughts and opinions, they end up coming back to us from the mouths of others. They come back with an alien majesty. . . . So the lesson is, you believe it. When I’ve been most effective, I’ve followed that inner voice.’ Following the ‘blessed impulse’ is, I think, basic to leadership. This is how guiding visions are made real.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5
EXPRESSING YOURSELF VS. PROVING YOURSELF
“Some people are born knowing what they want to do, and even how to do it. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. We have to spend some time figuring out what to do with our lives. Vague goals, such as ‘I just want to be happy’ or ‘I want to live well’ or ‘I want to make the world a better place’ or even ‘I want to be very, very rich,’ are nearly useless. ...What do you want? The majority of us go through life, often very successfully, without ever asking, much less answering, this most basic question. The most basic answer, of course, is that you want to express yourself fully, for that is the most basic human drive. As one friend put it, ‘We all want to learn how to use our own voices,’ and it has led some of us to the peak and some of us to the depths. How can you best express you?” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #6
TRUST: 4 INGREDIENTS TO GENERATING + SUSTAINING
“The underlying issue in leading from voice is trust—in fact, I believe that trust is the underlying issue in not only getting people on your side, but having them stay there. There are four ingredients leaders have that generate and sustain trust:
1. Constancy. Whatever surprises leaders themselves may face, they don’t create any for the group. Leaders are all of a piece; they stay the course.
2. Congruity. Leaders walk their talk. In true leaders, there is no gap between the theories they espouse and the life they practice.
3. Reliability. Leaders are there when it counts; they are ready to support their co-workers in the moments that matter.
4. Integrity. Leaders honor their commitments and promises.
When those four factors are in place, people will be on your side. Again, these are the kinds of things that can’t be taught. They can only be learned.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #7
WORLD-CLASS LEADERS: WILL YOU BE ONE OF THEM?
“Becoming a leader is not an orderly path. It is a fitful, often painful process that involves wrong turns and dead ends before great strides are made. Usually some transformative event or experience is central to finding one’s voice, learning how to engage others through shared meaning, and acquiring the other skills of leadership. FDR’s lifetime struggle with polio was most certainly his crucible of leadership. Instead of simply enduring hard times, we have to seize every opportunity for transformation they afford. In recent weeks, as the stock market rocked and rolled, I thought of what Abigail Adams had written to John Quincy Adams in the turbulent days of 1780: ‘These are the hard times in which a genius should wish to live. . . . Great necessities call forth great leaders.’
It is significant, I think, that Adams chose the plural, leaders. . . . It is easy to forget that we need more than one gifted leader at a time. At the founding of the United States, when our population was less than 4 million, we had six towering leaders: Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, Madison, Franklin, and Adams. Now that we number more than 304 million people, we are surely capable of yielding at least 600 world-class leaders in this country alone. Will you be one of them?” (End Quote)
Book Number Two
Lead Yourself First
Inspiring Leadership Through Solitude
By Raymond M. Kethledge and Michael S. Erwin
“To lead others you must first lead yourself. That, ultimately, is the theme of this book. Leadership, as Dwight Eisenhower defined it, is ‘the art of getting someone else to do something that you want done because he wants to do it.’ That does not mean that leadership amounts to using people; like anyone else, a leader must recognize that each person is an end in himself. It means, instead, to make others embrace your goals as their own. But to do that you must first determine your goals. And you must do that with enough clarity and conviction to hold fast to your goals— even when, inevitably, there are great pressures to yield from them. To develop that clarity and conviction of purpose, and the moral courage to sustain it through adversity, requires something that one might not associate with leadership. That something is solitude.” (End Quote)
SOLITUDE IN THE INPUT AGE
“Solitude has been instrumental to the effectiveness of leaders throughout history, but now they (along with everyone else) are losing it with hardly any awareness of the fact. Before the Information Age—which one could also call the Input Age—leaders naturally found solitude anytime they were physically alone, or when walking from one place to another, or while standing in line. Like a great wave that saturates everything in its path, however, handheld devices deliver inmeasurable quantities of information and entertainment that now have virtually everyone instead staring down at their phones. Society did not make a considered choice to surrender the bulk of its time for reflection in favor of time spent reading tweets or texts. Yet, with an awareness of what we have lost, each of us can choose to reclaim it. And leaders inparticular—whose actions by definition affect not only themselves—have more than a choice. They have an obligation. A leader has not only permission, but a responsibility, to seek out periods of solitude.” (End Quote)
SOLITUDE’S BIG 4
“Clarity is often a difficult thing for a leader to obtain. Concerns of the present tend to loom larger than potentially greater concerns that lie farther away. Some decisions by their nature present great complexity, whose many variables must align a certain way for the leader to succeed. Compounding the difficulty, now more than ever, is what ergonomists call information overload, where a leader is overrun with inputs—via e-mails, meetings, and phone calls—that only distract and clutter his thinking. ... Solitude offers ways for leaders to obtain greater clarity. A leader who thinks through a complexproblem by hard analytical work—as Eisenhower did before D-day—can identify the conditions necessary to solve it. A leader who silences the din not only around her mind, but inside it, can then hear the delicate voice of intuition, which may have already made connections that her conscious mind has not.” (End Quote)
MLK’S MORAL COURAGE
“King had been told the same thing. And he knew that the parallel went a step further. Black Americans have long identified with the Israelites of the Old Testament, who were persecuted by the pharaoh. After Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, they wander the desert for forty years. Finally God tells Moses to ‘get thee up this mountain,’ from whose top God says he will allow Moses to see the Promised Land. And God says he will give this land ‘unto the children of Israel for a possession’ (Deuteronomy 32:48-49). But God will not let Moses himself go there; instead, God says, Moses will die on the mountain. Moses then climbs up the mountain, sees the Promised Land, and dies.” (End Quote)
Bonus Quote #5