High Performance Teams & the Tale of the Las Vegas Golden Knights
July 19, 2018

The Las Vegas Golden Knights (Knights) roared onto the 2018 hockey stage and left with a bang as they competed in the final round for the Stanley Cup again the Washington Capitals.

Although the Knights ultimately lost to the Washington Capitals, their stunning first-year achievement of making it to the Stanley Cup Finals deserves a celebration and reflection on what may have taken the team from obscurity to almost winning the biggest prize in the NHL.

The Knights were the epitome of the power of teamwork and what creates a high performance (HP) team. They created a system and placed the right people in the right spots. The players were able to play based on their strengths and where they excelled.

7 Components of a High-Performance Team:

1. Trust – They can be very real and honest with each other

2. Clear Vision – There is alignment on what the envisioned future looks like. Everyone is pulling in the same direction.

3. Clear Understanding of Roles and Responsibilities – Everyone on the team knows why they are there, what they bring to the team, and how their contributions bring value and are necessary to achieve the vision and goals

4. Enthusiasm and Fun – Genuine liking between the people. It is said that if people like you they are more likely to buy from you. The same goes for HP teams. If you enjoy spending time with and working with people, the chances of experiencing great success together is much higher.

5. Challenge Each Other and Provide Feedback – Everyone gets stronger when ideas are challenged and there is regular feedback, both positive and constructive.

6. Cohesive through a Shared Language, Way of Being, Attitudes, Desire for End Result – When a team is cohesive, they are individual puzzle pieces that have found their perfect spot. They are one piece of a larger puzzle, and without that piece, there is a gaping hole that leads to an incomplete picture.

7. Mindset of Intention vs Expectations:

  • An intention is taking a stand and serving a purpose (internal focus).
  • An expectation is a prediction, with attachment and assumption around conditions and situations (external focus).

When you come from an intention, the language shifts from “this is how good we should be” based on external factors, to “we can achieve anything” based on internal factors. This language shifts the conversation to “we have no boundaries, no constraints, and no limits” which dramatically shifts your mindset regarding what you can and cannot do. It leaves no space for “but”, it only has space for “how”.

HP teams function and perform through a commitment to something larger than just a goal or objective. The commitment becomes the driving force behind the perseverance and dedication necessary to achieving greatness. It goes beyond a goal, beyond a success metric, and beyond achieving an objective: it’s your purpose, it’s your stand – there is no plan B!

Well-designed structures and systems can turn a team from good, great, to amazing, simply through the trust the team has in the system and a commitment to an outcome regardless of whether it seems achievable or not. HP teams are usually functioning within structures and systems that are designed with the intention of delivering excellence and to create the desired outcome.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights = Welcome to Impossible

The Knights were an expansion team made up of players that were plucked from other teams that were willing to give them up. They started as misfits with a desire to prove what they could do.

From the outside and on paper, the Knights should have been D.O.A. and fighting to be noticed in the fiercely competitive NHL, but between their GM, coaching staff, playing structure and system, and lots of empowerment, they were able to put the right players into the right roles that would enhance their strengths and align to the other players around them.

“It’s a credit to coach Gerard Gallant’s philosophy of having a well-conditioned, confident group of forwards who work well together, focus on short effective shifts, and exude confidence on the ice – all while, as he reiterates it daily, playing 200 feet of hockey. “


Leadership Challenge:

Where does your team need to upgrade their commitment to being High Performance?

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