June 10, 2010

Becoming a Championship Association

Blackhawks WIN! Blackhawks WIN!

If you follow me on Twitter, or are a friend of mine on Facebook, you probably saw me LEAP onto the 'Hawks bandwagon as they entered the NHL Playoffs. Who watches the NHL regular season anyway?!?!

Anyway, while watching a team in the town where I live win a world championship was AMAZING, and I actually took away a few lessons that we can take from the Blackhawks' run as we strive to become championship associations...

1. Having the right organizational leadership means the world - Four or five years ago, the Chicago Blackhawks franchise was in shambles. People were not going to the games and the team was a joke in the city... The leadership team was failing miserably. Then came Rocky Wirtz, the current chairman/owner of the team who vowed to bring winning back to one of the original six NHL franchises... He developed a plan, hired the right management team (including a successful team President who came from one of the city's baseball franchises), and made his vision well known - he was going to bring a championship back to the city. In just a few years, his vision became a reality... As we think about becoming a championship association, having the right leaders in place (both on staff and on the Board) is extremely important.

2. Don't overlook young leaders - When Wirtz first took over, the first two players he brought in were Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, who were the young guns he was going to build the new transition around. In associations, we often have young members who are interested in getting involved and engaging in leadership positions early on, and we need to be willing to let them take the lead and bring a different kind of leadership to the table.

3. But don't forget about your old leaders - One of the greatest things about the Blackhawks' run was how they embraced their leaders from years past... Men like Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Tony Esposito, all of whom were leaders on the last team that won the Stanley Cup, were front and center throughout the team's championship run... The lesson for associations here is while it's important to embrace young leaders, keeping high profile past leaders in the loop and visible is extremely important...

4. Your fans love to cheer for a winner - When things weren't going well, the fans went away from the 'Hawks... When they started winning again, the fans came back in droves... Being a championship association means keeping your fans engaged and empowered at all times. How can they help you reach your vision/mission? How can they help you get your message out further? If they can see your vision, they'll be invaluable!

It took the Blackhawks a long time (49 years to be exact) to once again become the Stanley Cup Champions. It might take your association some time, but by keeping some of the tips in mind directly from this year's NHL champions will help you focus on some things to get you back to championship-caliber!

Oh, and GO 'Hawks!

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