And what if it were “the player’s choice”? by Adrien Plavsic


Didier Marlier

April 21, 2017

From Disruption to Engagement

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Adrien Plavsic is a “monument” in ice hockey. Silver medallist of the Albertville 1992 Olympics with Canada, ex NHL (top US/Canadian league) player, he is now an atypical hockey coach in Switzerland. Here is an original idea of his: What if players could choose their coach? Translate it in: “What if employees could nominate their leaders?” Thank you Adrien for allowing me to publish your post here…

“I was recently having a conversation with a friend who is a leadership coach about what would happen if players would get to choose their own coach in ice hockey!

Many old paradigms about leadership have become obsolete over time. When I was a player, the belief was that a hockey coach had to be a dictator in order to earn respect and success. We held the same beliefs when it came to raising our children.  Teachers once punished children who didn’t follow their rigid set of rules. The result is we disempowered our children at a young age because they were taught to respect authority no matter how unjust someone is treated. That only creates resentment! I believe many coaches do that as well!

Could a team where players chose their coach be successful? Why not!

I believe this would be an opportunity for a different type of team where everyone is more focused on the greater good versus personal achievement. The fact that the players have chosen someone to lead them offers an opportunity for a different type of relationship between the players and the coach. If I were chosen by the players, I would feel a deep wanting to inspire and contribute to them.  Contribution is one of our human needs; you see it in individuals who have a great sense of inner security, self-worth and purpose. Most leaders operate at the level of survival awareness; this means that the individual’s agenda is to keep his/her image positive. A shift would have to take place in the individual’s consciousness for him/her to move to the level of contribution awareness where the team interest becomes the primary focus.

The greatest leaders in history are the ones who worked for the interest of the whole; their self-interest took a back seat. Great examples were Gandhi and Nelson Mandela! How did a little man like Gandhi manage to remove the British colony from India? Gandhi’s strength was he related to the common Indian who was suffering by living amongst them.  He didn’t see himself as superior!

That is true leadership!

Our society is still functioning from a survival blueprint, which explains why we feel separate from one another; the attitude of me against everyone else or us against them dominate our world.

The concept of evolution is based on cooperation. Once upon a time there only existed single organisms and by cooperating, single organisms became multi organisms. We have billions of cells that need to cooperate in order for us to have optimal health. When cells cease to function in harmony with other cells, we have disease. The concept is the same in our society, our community, our family and our hockey team.

In conclusion a coach who is chosen by the players could only work if the members of the organization have evolved beyond trying to meet their survival needs (security and recognition). Otherwise the same conflicts will arise because what is driving the individual has not changed regardless whether the choice for coach is one made by the players.”

To illustrate his blog-post, I can’t resist the pleasure of a recent interview of Adrien after he took one of his teams to success. So good to hear true French with a Canadian accent 😉


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