Caring One Team-One Number

Make it Personal

True, caring leaders make it personal. Phillip Kane

May 21, 2010

Last Friday, the Philadelphia Flyers did something that hadn’t been done in 35 years. They clawed back from a 3 game deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins to win the Stanley Cup Championship 4-3 in the best of seven game series. Winning 4 straight games in hockey is a big deal. To take 4 in a row from the Bruins, well that’s an even bigger deal. To run the table in a Stanley Cup Final, that’s a breathtaking achievement, particularly when you consider that the Flyers were down 3-1 at then end of the first period in deciding game 7. 

Many credit Coach Peter Laviolette’s talk with the team between the first two periods as having made the difference. After a rough start to the speech that included a disagreement with forward Scott Hartnell about pride, Laviolette told the squad a story about losing with dignity. He told the team that “No matter what people say or do, we have to be ourselves.” He then started around the room asking players who they were and where they were from. Every player said their name and their hometown. Laviolette finished, “Peter Laviolette, Norwood, Massachusetts.”  As he finished, the team roared. In that moment, Laviolette had done something magical. He had made it deeply personal. It stopped being a game. It stopped being a Flyer thing. It became something personal, something those 20 players and 1 coach would go on to do for each other. And they did. They won because it became personal. When it becomes personal, incredible things become possible. 

And that’s the point for the week.

When teammates become personally connected, bonds begin to form that once cemented are not easily broken. The ideals of One Team, One Number naturally take hold as personally connected teammates almost instinctively have each other’s backs, look out for each other and pick each other up.

When leaders make things personal, those they lead feel more valued because their leader says without saying a word that they care, that they are interested in them as an individual, that they are significantly more than just a nameless face in a crowd.  As a result, the lengths that associates are willing to go for their leaders becomes far greater, the amount of change people are willing to endure increases.  And the time that each will spend in the ring fighting for their leader and what matters to him or her rises exponentially – all because their leader cared enough to care about them.

So, make it personal.

And win.

If you like the blog, you’ll love the book. To purchase a copy of Phillip’s book, The Not So Subtle Art of Caring: Letters on Leadership, from John Hunt Publishing, London, please follow this LINK. “Letters” is based on 85 story-backed lessons Phillip used while leading actual teams to accomplish extraordinary things. It is an outstanding resource for those who wish to commit to becoming the sort of leader that people WANT to follow.

To learn more about Phillip, please click HERE.