Hockey Character

In my last blog post, I wrote about evaluating and recruiting character. I suggest that it’s critical to be clear about the specific character skills that are important to your organization. By doing so, you can create a system for evaluating prospects for behavioral and cultural fit. To determine the intangibles that contribute to wins and sustained success is a competitive advantage and a worthwhile endeavor to consider.

The purpose of a strong culture is to produce the outcomes you want. Depending on your level, it could be about harmony, equal experience, and fun. In a high performance environment it is about winning games and pursuing championships. The point of developing your list of character skills is to drive the behavior that is necessary to be successful.

The great Anatoly Tarasov, “Father of Russian Hockey,” had a set of criteria:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Willing to compete
  • Hungry to learn
  • Highly disciplined
  • Fully committed to the program.

Urban Meyer, former football coach at Ohio State and Florida has a list of non-negotiable traits when recruiting a player:

  • Competitive spirit
  • Toughness
  • Leadership
  • Intelligence
  • Adaptability

The words sound great. They look great on a poster on the wall, too! But, the words can mean something different to each person in the organization. Defining the character skills is imperative. Everyone in the locker room needs to be crystal clear on what each skill means and the type of behavior that is required.

I choose to use the term, character “skill” because it is a direct message that one can improve in this area. Character does not have to be a fixed ability that the person is powerless to change.

Identifying the character skills and required behavior to be successful is the first step in helping your players contribute to the team culture.

In my Coaching Project podcast, I connected with Vlad Bespomoshchnov to discuss the coaching methods of Tarasov. It’s fascinating to learn about his philosophies developed between 1947-1974 and how far ahead of his time he was. Part of his philosophy is about the character he wanted his players to have.

I’m curious to learn about the character skills you feel are critical to success. Feel free to leave a comment below.

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