6 Leadership Tips From an NHL Executive

HockeyThe Globe and Mail carried a great article on July 18, 2016, entitled “You need to be humble, you need to allow others to lead”. This article was written by Geoff Molson, President, CEO of CH Group Limited Partnership, owner of the Montreal Canadiens, Bell Center and Chairman of the Board of Molson Coors Brewing Company. Geoff was being interviewed by Carl Moore of McGill University as they talked about key leadership skills.


I wanted to highlight this interview as I think it pulls out six really important traits of great leadership.


  1. Everyone needs to be involved in the success of your organization.

I’ve written in this space in the past about the importance of your village or community. No one can do it alone and leaders need to understand that success is driven by everyone on the team, not just the senior decision-makers.  In Molson’s case he recognizes the importance of the trainers, the equipment managers, the chefs and everyone on up the line.  Teamwork, effective communication throughout and a clear set of expectations for everyone are key elements of a successful organization.


  1. A leader has to trust his team.

As the owner of a hockey team, Molson recognizes the potential conflict of leadership and management. He warns that leaders cannot second-guess their managers and managers in turn need to empower their employees to make decisions and execute without continuous management involvement. A leader needs to provide managers and the team, suggests Molson, with all the tools, education and bandwidth to succeed.  Guide when necessary but do not micromanage.


  1. Continuous feedback to the leadership team is critical.

Although I shouldn’t be, I’m always surprised to hear that many of the great leaders or successful business people that I meet employ business coaches or mentors.  These people recognize that you can never do it alone and that constant feedback is so important to our success. Molson tells us that after every speech he tries to get as much feedback as possible from the people in the audience. It takes a little effort, he suggests, as people are very inclined to tell you how great you are. You need to drill down and get them to a point where they will tell you, honestly, what you need to hear.


  1. Leaders need to lead a balanced life

I fall into the trap of rushing to work at 6:30 in the morning way too often. Molson’s advice here is to starts work at 8:30 or 9:00 am – after you spend time with your family, drive the kids to school, exercise, read, meditate or any combination of these. The team, the village, needs a strong leader and strength is as much about health and a balanced life as it is about the ability to lead.


  1. Your team wants you to be authentic

This one hit a cord for me. Over the last few weeks I’ve been told twice that I am a straight shooter and easy to read.  I wasn’t so sure this was a good thing but I was assured it was. I guess I could use the word authentic. Molson highlights that this trait is the key ingredient to great leadership. He is proud of the fact that his people know exactly who he is, what he is and most often, what he’s thinking. He considers himself an ‘open book’. Authenticity breeds trust and trust breeds strong teams.


  1. You need to be humble

Being humble can be found on most people’s lists of critical attributes of leadership. Being humble, suggests Molson, allows him to allow others to lead. And being humble allows, and even encourages him, to give back to the community and village that he considers so important to his success.


Help build the village, trust your team, encourage continuous feedback, lead a balanced life and be authentic. This works well for the CEO of the Montreal Canadians. Great advice for all of us.


Images courtesy www.freedigitalphotos.net


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1 thought on “6 Leadership Tips From an NHL Executive”

  1. Great summary David and a great reminder of all the things we often forget when we get too busy ‘working’…thanks for the reminder!

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