Being a hockey fan, I always hate to see the NHL season come to an end, but I absolutely love the Stanley Cup playoffs. I think there are many leadership lessons to be learned from this grueling playoff run.

As many of you know, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup last week for the first time in their franchise history. They were the 8th seeded team coming into the playoffs, so they certainly weren’t a favorite to win it this year either.

Here are some leadership lessons that I took from the Los Angeles Kings successful race for the Cup.

  • Set your sights and expectations for your team high. Setting your goals too low might rob your team from the unbelievable feeling of accomplishment when they achieve great things. There is clearly no better feeling than the rush of adrenaline after accomplishing great things. You could see it in the King’s reaction at the end of the game.
  • Focus on things that you can control, as opposed to outside perceptions of your team and things you don’t control. During the playoff run, the Kings beat the #1 seed, the #2 seed, and then the Eastern Champion New Jersey Devils to win the cup. Clearly they were never favored in any series, but they focused on what they could do, and in the process only lost 1 road game the entire playoff run, and were clearly the best team in the playoffs. 
  • It’s not about any one individual; it’s about the team. You normally cannot accomplish great things on your own; it takes an entire team of people pulling together towards a common purpose with common values. When you get everyone pulling in the same-shared direction, great things can be accomplished. Have you ever seen so many grown men hugging each other as the Kings were at the end of their playoff run? It was clearly about the team and their relationships. 
  • Major achievements don’t normally come without some pain and sacrifice. There is not a much more grueling run to a championship than that of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. However the Kings always kept the goal in mind, put in the necessary practice, and worked through the pain to become Champions of the World. 
  • Take time to celebrate! Many times as leaders we have a tendency to move from one win to the next and never really take time to celebrate with the team. That clearly does not happen with the Stanley Cup Champions. They revel in their accomplishment for quite some time, both on the ice at the end of the game, and then throughout the offseason as each player gets to spend some time with the Cup. It is very important to take the time to recognize your team for their great work, and take time to celebrate their victories.

I encourage you in this upcoming week to take the time to celebrate your big wins with your team or your family. It will take your relationships to a new level and lead to further success.

Mark Deterding