6 minutes reading time (1102 words)

When It’s Time to Retire Your Jersey

For the hockey fans this past weekend, the game on Sunday night against the Anaheim Ducks and the Winnipeg Jets was truly outstanding.  The game itself went into overtime ended in a double shoot out – with a Finnish player making the winning goal. How appropriate! It was action packed, the energy on the ice was very obvious by both teams, and the fans you could tell had been provided quite the show!

The tribute to Teemu Selanne and the retiring of his jersey was in itself quite the production, where a great deal of thought, effort and desire for impact were present.  As we watched him get out of his car, enter the arena to greet fans and make his way through the stands and onto the ice, we could only feel the swell of excitement and emotion that was about to be bestowed upon us all.   As his family looked on, you could not help but see the pride of his family - to them and from them.  Yet, they were not the only ones who felt pride.   I believe there were a lot of people looking onto Teemu as if he was their own or should I say our own - The Finnish Flash who started out in Winnipeg. 

The entire presentation was well over an hour and the producers appealed to all hockey fans with nostalgic footage of Teemu in action during his professional hockey career, commemorative toasts by friends and colleagues, and a final thank you by Teemu himself.  He thanked the many fans of Winnipeg, his many friends from Winnipeg, and was readily applauded by all those sharing in this moment in the stands, dressed in their own Teemu jerseys.  The production ended with tears, cheers and applause.  The actual hockey game started with both teams on the ice, in a sea of Teemu Selanne practice jerseys – all emblazoned with a #8 for Anaheim and a #13 for Winnipeg.  

The message was loud and clear – Teemu Selanne has created quite an impact on the sport, he has been a true leader to his team mates, a role model to many, a supportive and present father and husband, a community minded man and an overall solid individual with integrity, professionalism and class.

So, what would your Commemorative Evening look like when you “retire your jersey?”

What would be said about you as a leader in your field, as a community member, as a friend, as a family member and as a person?

Leadership takes on many different forms.  Leadership is sideways, upwards and downward. Leadership creates and impacts organizational culture. When leaders are aligned with the culture and know where the company is truly at, anything is possible.  New initiatives can be introduced and new directions can be taken with positive buy-in from almost everyone and success will be achieved.

What stories would your ‘teammates,’ your competition, your neighbors, your colleagues, your family share about you?

Your professional career is always in a state of growth, change and you have decisions on how you will react all along the way.  Your desire to succeed with integrity and thoughtfulness for others, and good technical expertise, will not only propel you and those around you to success, but it will also contribute to your company’s success.  However, it is a reality that the pursuit of a successful career can often lead to destruction along the way! If not severe destruction, it can lead to a less than positive outcome.  Synergies don’t exist, performance is poor, everyone seems to be on the same page, yet something is misaligned. The wins are not out numbering the losses!

In hockey, players are traded and often will flourish with their next team.  The synergies are different the people are different, the players click and a career just takes off. In the business world, the ‘trading’ is never as obvious, but different leaders join different teams, and careers continue to strengthen and companies continue to flourish and possibly even exponentially.  Not always, of course, but the expectation is always there, that a new leader can bring on a new energy, a new momentum and performance follows along. 

Even if you’ve been the leader on the team for a while, the expectations are still there – that your personal performance will be just as exceptional as it was last year, and you will assist in achieving the company’s continued success.  Whether new to the role or not, either way, a true leader will not take success for granted. 

For many, this time of year, is a chance to re-assess, to take a fresh look or to begin with a new exuberance. Re-assessment in itself is an admission that “For the good of the company, I want to ensure we are starting at the right point.”  It should not be looked upon with possible fear of the results.  Assessing the pulse of the organization sends a positive message to your superiors and to your team.  You are open to hear the truth and build from there with the intention that success will prevail given you honestly embrace the results.

When the NHL lockout occurred, Teemu took that time to focus on his physical health to ensure his knee was in the best possible condition to return in top form.  Yes, there were naysayers that perhaps he would never skate as fast nor perform as well.  He got his assessment, took the necessary steps and through hard work and commitment, came back and continued to excel to the end of his career.  Similar to the way he had run his career in the past, he now took this next step, made the necessary decisions, put in the work to move forward, and continued to write his story and forward he went with his team to win a Stanley Cup!  I guess the rest you can say is history!

So, where are you taking your team next? Do you really know where the pulse of your organization is at?  What would you do with the real facts and in turn the results?

Organizational insight is just that - a stepping off point to guide your company’s direction and in turn will guide the rest of your successful career.  Ensure your story of who you are as leader plays out the way you want it to.   Whether you are a brand new leader or a seasoned leader in your current role, the time is right to stop, assess and act.   Consider the impact you want to make and the legacy you want to create - why not start now? 

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