#I don't know a thing about sports.
It's really shameful having grown up in Chicago which boasts some of the most amazing, accomplished teams ever, anywhere. Sports somehow escaped me. I thought one day I might learn, I've been to a handful of games and even boxes at the White Sox Games, the Cubs Games and the Blackhawks games when the companies I worked for sponsored them for events.
Although organized sports have never been my thing, sports shapes Corporate America so like it or not, I had lots of exposure. As I started a new year, a boss would hand me a binder with notes stating "here's your playbook" as if everyone spoke in these terms. I learned to adjust and get along and benefitted by being in the presence of some incredibly important sports figures and well-known arenas.
I heard Gale Sayers speak at a business lunch. I knew him from the movie "Brian's Song" which was played regularly on after school TV. It was unusual in the 70s to see an interracial friendship. It was also unusual to see heterosexual men openly express their love for each other in a deep friendship. It was the first Bromance I recall. I was really looking forward to hearing Gale Sayers speak, he owned a tech firm and that was something I could wrap my head around. I remember Mr. Sayers clearly stating 'everyone thinks I have it so easy, because I'm Gale Sayers.' He said, 'well when something goes wrong (and things go wrong in tech all the time) they say AREN'T YOU GALE SAYERS?" His insight stayed with me. We're all dealt a hand in this life, how we play that hand is up to us. From the outside looking in it seemed he had it so easy.
The other notable sports figure I saw speak at a lunch was Coach Joel Quenneville. It was just as he accepted the job to coach the Blackhawks. I didn't have any after school movie that would shed any light on who Coach Quenneville was. I did know about the Blackhawks heyday though and the rockstar- like reputation Bobby Hull has. Before Coach Quenneville took over. the Blackhawks were lethargic for a long time. I heard stories though of people having long-time season tickets back in the heyday, the games they saw, and lots and lots of stories about Bobby Hull.
Coach Quenneville was leading the Blackhawks at the beginning of what is referred to in business as a 'transformation'. He was taking the sleepy current state and building a future state we couldn't even imagine in 2008. Coach Quenneville brought the Chicago Blackhawks to not one, not two but three Stanley Cup wins. It seems unimaginable from the vantagepoint of 2008.
I was interested to hear the new Coach Quenneville speak. I found a man who was humble and straightforward. He said, The first thing I did was invite Bobby Hull in and apologize to him. We spent time talking about every painful issue. We put it on the table, and created a pathway to start building trust. We argued, we yelled, and then we started over. Then I apologized to the fans' (paraprhased , this is all from my memory long ago). I was really impressed. Coach Quenneville's message was soft but hard. Having the skill and ability to face the soft, hard things is quite a talent. Apparently it's a talent that earns three Stanley Cups.
I dont' know the backstory of why Coach Quenneville got fired. I heard something about Rocky Wirtz saying "we're not going to be sentimental about these decisions anymore." I have a feeling Coach Quenneville was somewhat difficult to deal with over the last several years. I have no idea what kind of pressures, constraints or demands he was under. I do know, though, it was wrong to part ways with someone who did so much for the Blackhawks so unceremoniously. A man who brought an unnoticed team, where you couldn't give a ticket away, to winning three Stanley Cups deserved more than the way he was treated. Even if the termination was justified, parting of the ways could've been administered more thoughtfully perhaps showing appreciation for all he had done and accomplished. It seems not everyone was listening at Coach Quenneville's lunch presentation.
One day, I hope Coach Quenneville gets the apology he deserves. How he was treated was wrong. Until then, he will remain a hero in Chicago stories and his very well-deserved Rockstar status will live on. #Leadership
Alicia Dale is a strategic thinking Creative that understands the power of words to influence, change and build new infrastructures. This Blog is to capture ideas that have no where else to go at this very moment. Who knows how they will be developed? Or where they will go? For now they are sparkles of light easily stored where I can search and find them when they call my name again.