This was a question posed recently to John Tortorella, successful head coach of the New York Rangers. I bring this up because his answer sounds like it’s coming from the mouth of an enlightened business executive instead of the coach behind one of the best teams in the National Hockey League.
Referencing the 29 teams his squad competes with, Tortorella noted how the Rangers must adjust and readjust to changing competition. His preparation revolves around three integrated aspects; skills, systems and strategy. He demands high skill levels but acknowledges that his team must sometimes modify their collective skills to better match the other team. “Our system—the routines we run, the combinations we deploy during the game—are flexible enough to bend and readjust based on the competition’s core strengthen. Our strategy for any of the teams we face is based on how we will leverage our skills—collectively, as individuals and teammates—and deploy them within the proper system as a cohesive unit.”
He also acknowledges that change—of their system and strategy—can let people off the hook if not properly managed. “If you don’t explain your rationale and don’t let everyone know what their roles are individually and why each role is critical to the big picture, they will question your plan and your leadership if things don’t go well. That’s why it important to keep everyone informed and motivated so they buy-into what we are doing here.”
Words we can all live by whether or not we make our living from behind a bench or a desk. Business leaders must keep the lines of communication open; they must translate the unit’s goals into specific actions and outcomes that individuals can understand and buy into, and they must keep everyone motivated and focused on how their individual skills support the group as a whole no matter how much the system or the strategy changes.