Leadership Lessons from Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin

Daniel Sedin and Henrik SedinOn April 2, 2018, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin announced they would be retiring at the end of the NHL season from the Vancouver Canucks. Given their age of 37 and being in the final year of their four-year contract, there was a good chance that this would be their final year of NHL hockey, but it wasn’t a certainty. They openly discussed the possibility in a public letter to the City of Vancouver at the beginning of the season.

Since the retirement announcement, there has been an outpouring of praise and admiration from their peers about not only their on-ice play and their impact on the game of hockey, but also of their character. The electric atmosphere at their final home game on April 5, 2018 was punctuated with a storybook ending as Daniel Sedin scored the game winner in overtime on a pass from Henrik Sedin.

In recognition of their remarkable accomplishments and contributions to the community, we offer some leadership lessons from Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin.

1. Shoulder the Blame, Share the Credit
As Assistant Captain and Captain, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have been leaders of the Vancouver Canucks for many years. During tough times, they have stood front and centre in the locker room answering questions from the media, and shouldering the negative attention away from their teammates. During good times, they stood back, and let their teammates get the positive attention. They are accountable for mistakes made and are quick to share recognition of their accomplishments with their coaches, teammates, support staff and family.

Leaders today can learn from their ability to take responsibility, to be accountable, and to share credit with others.

2. Be Humble
One constant that you hear about the Sedins is how humble they are. Many superstars are known for their egos, but Daniel and Henrik demonstrated themselves as down-to-earth, regular people. They treat everyone around them with dignity and respect, whether they are teammates, support staff, or fans. Like many, they value their families, and in retirement want to be able to do things that many of us take for granted – be home for dinner, take their kids to their sports practices and games, and attend their birthday parties.

Keep your ego in check. Be gracious in both success and defeat. Speak less and listen more. All are leadership lessons that can be learned from the Sedins.

3. Set a Positive Example
Teammates and coaches alike praise Daniel and Henrik for their unparalleled work ethic. They work extremely hard in the off season on their fitness and skills. During the season, they always give their best in practices and gym sessions. They have lead the team in fitness measurements in training camp for many years, even as they have aged. They are able to maintain an even keel, regardless of whether they had a four-point night or were minus 4 on the score sheet in a blowout loss.

As a leader, you don’t need to have all the answers, but you need to work hard and set a positive example.

4. Be a Mentor
When they started in the NHL as 20-year olds, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin were mentored by great Canuck leaders, including Markus Naslund and Trevor Linden. Once they became the front-line players, they carried forward the leadership culture and demonstrated to the younger players the work ethic expected of a professional with the Vancouver hockey club. Bo Horvat, often touted as a future Captain for the team, raves about the lessons he has learned over his four years of playing with the Sedins.

Their quiet professionalism, coupled with being the hardest working members of the team, contributed to the culture of the organization and provided an example for how younger players should conduct themselves.

For companies today, having strong mentors in your leadership team helps to set the stage for future leaders and allows for a strong succession plan.

5. Get Involved in Your Community
Daniel and Henrik made a large donation to the BC Children’s Hospital, but wanted it to remain anonymous. Only after they were persuaded by the Hospital Foundation that promotion of their donation would lead to more donations did they agree to go public. They have made many visits to the hospital, to brighten the day of those dealing with difficult medical situations. Together, along with their spouses, they created the Sedin Family Foundation to work with schools, community groups and social service agencies to make a difference for children and families in BC.

Contributing to the community in which you live and work is an essential part of being a successful leader. Not only is it important to help those who need it, the joy and fulfillment that comes from giving back and the ability to look outside of yourself will make you a stronger leader.

The Vancouver Canucks will retire the jerseys of Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the near future, and once eligible, in our opinion, they should be selected into the Hockey Hall of Fame. What is not in doubt, is that their character and leadership qualities are of Hall of Fame stature. Vancouver will miss them tremendously and we have been fortunate to have been able to watch them over the course of their entire NHL career. Thank you Daniel and Henrik!


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