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3 Leadership Qualities We Can Learn From Sidney Crosby

June 16, 2017

Back-to-back Stanley Cup champions! Since 1998, no team has won the Cup in back to back seasons, making this achievement even more meaningful for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans. Without a doubt, the Pens would not have earned this accomplishment if it weren’t for Captain Sidney Crosby’s direction. This is Sid’s third Stanley Cup win over the past eight years of his career, and as he deserves, he’s been awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player for the second season in a row.

Not surprisingly, sports experts argue that Sidney Crosby exemplifies the definition of leadership. So, what can Sidney Crosby teach us about leadership? And how does Sidney Crosby’s leadership on the ice translate to successful leadership in the workplace?

Let’s take a look at three of Sidney's leadership strengths:

1. Setting the team up for success. During the Eastern Conference Final of this year, Sidney Crosby became the 22nd player in all of NHL history to have 100 career postseason assists. This means that Crosby has successfully set up his teammates to score a goal in the playoffs over 100 times in his NHL hockey career alone. Setting up others for success is just as important for workplace leadership as succeeding individually. If you aren’t providing your incumbents with the tools they need to be successful in their roles, then you aren’t doing your part as a good leader. 

Here are some tips for setting your team up for success: 

  • Set attainable goals
  • Delegate assignments that will help incumbents expand their knowledge and achieve those attainable goals
  • Provide training opportunities where needed and wanted 

2. Being a team player. It doesn’t take the point above to illustrate that Sidney Crosby did not win the Stanley Cup in back-to-back years by himself. The success of the Pittsburgh Penguins over the past two years isn’t because of Sidney Crosby alone – it’s the work that he and all his teammates have put in. As a leader, you cannot expect to excel for focusing solely on yourself. One of the most important metrics leaders should be focusing on in terms of gauging their leadership success is how well their team is performing. If you are a leader and your team is not performing up to par, it’s important to start asking yourself some important questions. These are just a few examples of questions good leaders can confidently answer with a “yes:”

  • Are you providing your team with the resources they need to perform successfully?
  • Are you communicating clearly?

Related: How to Use Assessment Results for Development

3. Having a mindset of continuous improvement. Whether it is on or off the ice, Sidney Crosby is constantly taking proactive steps to better himself and the lives of others. As one example, Crosby has taken the initiative to start a hockey school in which proceeds go to his foundation to support disadvantaged children. In terms of self-improvement, Crosby takes his offseason training seriously. For instance, the NHL reported that after the Penguins won the Stanley Cup Championship in 2009, Crosby spent his off season focusing on areas of his performance he thought to be “deficient.” Successful leaders in the workplace have similar mindsets; effective, impactful leaders are focused not only on the success of their employees, but also on how they can make themselves better leaders.

One way a continuous-improvement mindset can be encouraged is through development initiatives focused on feedback. Encouraging continuous, spontaneous, and frequent feedback from multiple, meaningful sources (e.g., incumbents, customers, and senior leaders) can make leaders aware of areas for improvement and strengths to leverage.

As Captain, Sidney Crosby’s leadership qualities are among many of the recognizable characteristics of leaders that who produce positive outcomes. I must say I am happy to add back-to-back Stanley Cup wins to the list of successes!

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Lindsey Burke Lindsey Burke is a Consultant based in the Pittsburgh office of PSI. She is largely responsible for client support and managing clients in industries including manufacturing, sales, and healthcare. Lindsey completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Xavier University and earned a B.A. and B.S. in Psychology from Kent State University.