Homework Assignment From an NHL Coach

Want to Build a Better Team? John Stevens Offers a Hint

By Published on .

Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
I've been a life-long ice-hockey nut. Me, and 14 other people in America. Tonight, I had the rare pleasure of taking my son to a private event, where we bowled and socialized with all of the players and coaches of the Philadelphia Flyers. An unforgettable night for my son. For me, I gained some valuable insight for my agency.

While world-class players like Martin Biron and Danny Briere were mobbed by autograph seekers, I reached out to the head coach, John Stevens, who was quietly nursing a drink and watching over his players. At 41, John is a young coach in the NHL. I told him I run a small/midsize marketing agency, and one of the things I value in our agency is teamwork. But wanting teamwork and actually realizing teamwork are two different things. While the highly talented people in my agency work well together, for the most part, we could always do better.

It's human nature to work independently and to seek credit for a job well done. It's no different in the creative and high-pressure environment of an agency. But John Stevens gets paid millions of dollars to mobilize 24 other highly skilled millionaires to work as one. Think that's easy to do? And as I write this, Stevens has already guided the Flyers to first place in our division, with a team where nine starters are brand new to the team. How did he do it? He began by reading a book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable, by Patrick M. Lencioni. He highly recommended it to me, and said that any company leader -- especially one that leads a smaller, dynamic company -- must read this book.

I already visited Amazon.com tonight and ordered my copy. I'm sharing the tip with you, so that you can also pick up a copy. If bringing together your staff/direct reports is important to you, this book might be the spark you need to create an unbeatable team for your agency. It'll get all of your employees on the same page; discourage silo-type behavior; stimulate creativity and collaboration. As we all know, grandstanders lose, and teams win. It's not often you gain genuine insights from a successful coach of a professional sports team. But you just did. Leverage it.
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