10 Things One Coach Teaches Us About NextGen Leaders

Do you struggle with connecting with young, next generation leaders?  In the May 16th edition of Sports Illustrated, we are given a profile of an extraordinarily talented young leader.

39-year old Guy Boucher is the head coach of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. To put this in perspective, a 39-year-old pro hockey coach is similar to a 25-year-old pastor or 23-year-old CEO of an internet start-up.  Here are 10 things Boucher teaches us about NextGen leaders:

  1. Incredible Intellect – NextGen leaders have great mental capacity.  Boucher earned dual degrees in history and biosystems engineering while at Montreal’s prestigious McGill University.  He then went back to school in 2000 to study Sports Psychology at the Universite de Montreal. 
  2. Fearlessness – NextGen leaders are courageous.  “The way Guy sees the game, thinks the game, he’s not afraid to do something that nobody’s ever done before” says goaltender Dwayne Roloson.
  3. Innovation – NextGen leaders would rather try a new idea than use a “proven” one.  “A lot of coaches recycle the same old ideas.  But Boucher isn’t afraid to think for himself.  He doesn’t care what people think” says an unidentified scout.
  4. Environment – Boucher, and most NextGen leaders, are products of their environment.  He grew in a home where he was encouraged to follow his passion and where risk-taking was encouraged.
  5. People Skills – The most underrated skill of NextGen leaders is their ability to relate to others.  “I think Guy’s people skills are his biggest asset” says Martin Raymond.  Michael Andlauer adds, “Guy is a great listener.”  He knows when to stop talking.  Do you?
  6. Personal Lives Matter – While many older leaders often avoid going into the personal lives of their teams, younger leaders are more transparent and willing to share information.  Boucher says, “I don’t coach systems; I coach people.”  He engages people on a personal level to better understand what makes them tick so he can properly motivate them.
  7. Respect – Young leaders admire experienced, proven leaders.  Boucher has built a relationship with the winningest coach in NHL history Scotty Bowman.  This practice is not uncommon with young leaders.
  8. Everyone’s Contribution Matters – Boucher prioritizes public praise for his role players.  “This time of year (play-offs) especially, everyone’s important.  We need everyone.”
  9. Execution – Boucher knows that how you run a system is more important that what system you are running.  “Guy has everyone on board.  And that’s a tribute to him” says Jamie Kompon.  Karl Alzner adds, “They have a system, and you don’t see one guy doing anything different, anytime.”
  10. Optimism – NextGen leaders have not been hardened by life’s realities.  They are incredibly optimistic and positive.  “The revival of an organization.  My job is to stay levelheaded” says Boucher.

When engaging young leaders, you will connect better knowing they possess these 10 characteristics – Educated, Fearlessness, Innovative, Products of Their Environment, Relational, Personal, Respectful, Inclusive, Executors, and often Accentuating The Positive.

As I look to the future and the young leadership coming up, I think we are in very good hands.  What do you think?

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About Brian Dodd on Leadership

I am a church stewardship and leadership consultant for INJOY Stewardship Solutions. This blog combines my personal passions of church, sports, pop culture and family into a single leadership resource. I trust your time on this site will create conversations and add value to your life.


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