In hockey, the center is the playmaker – the one with vision to see the entire ice and find open players to score goals. Both offensive and defensive minded, this player is integral to any winning hockey team. He’s the secret weapon, arguably the most important guy on the ice.  

But if you interviewed Pittsburgh Penguin’s hockey star Sidney Crosby, he’d probably tell you otherwise. Crosby is regarded as one of the NHL’s best centers of all time, but also one of the most humble. He often attributes his Olympic and Stanley Cup wins to the work of his teammates. Hell, he’d probably say his teammates all deserve a share of the 50+ awards he’s earned throughout his career. It’s easy to see the importance of different personalities and skill sets on the ice, court, or field, but in our work lives, often we put on blinders to the skills of our teammates in an effort to further develop ourselves.

But just as a center is nothing without his wingmen, defensemen and goaltender, a good boss is nothing without a team filled with diverse skill sets and personalities. In today’s modern business landscape, we’re quickly ditching the top/down organizational strategy that prevailed for so many decades. Titles are becoming less and less important in an age where anyone’s voice can be heard loud and clear online. Firms are becoming webs of networked individuals where cooperation and coordination with others is integral to not only personal success, but the success of the company as a whole.


‘GamePlan A’ is the first business lifestyle magazine fueled by sport.


So what does this mean for me?

Well, I don’t have all the answers… but I can certainly tell you what it DOESN’T mean. This new business structure doesn’t negate the importance of personal skills. If anything it means we need to better understand our personal strengths and weaknesses to make our teams better and more productive. It also doesn’t mean we should push things off onto our teammates that we don’t want to do, or think we can’t do. The networked organizational structure functions best when each team member takes responsibility for him or herself.

Want to find your work life playing style?

GamePlan A has you covered. We’ve utilized research from Clemson University to help you learn more about your team’s playing styles. See if you recognize yourself or a member of your team in the descriptions below**:


JJ Watt, Houston Texans
Watt leads by example with soft-spoken diligence and professionalism. ©Getty Images / Scott Halleran

Gets team focused on immediate task: Dependable, organized, responsible, pragmatic, efficient, clear, and systematic.

  • Enjoys providing good technical info and data
  • Pushes for high performance standards
  • Helps team use its time and resources
  • Shares all relevant info with the team


Lionel Messi, Argentina/FC Barcelona
His unselfishness is a sign of a generous, mature leader. Not only a goal scorer but also a play maker thanks to his vision and passing abilities. ©FIFA via Getty Images / Alex Livesey - FIFA

Emphasizes overall purpose of the team: imaginative, cooperative, visionary, confident, flexible, forward looking, accommodating.

  • Helps team establish goals and clarify tasks
  • Sees the big picture
  • Reminds team to stay on track and focused on the target
  • Pitches in to help out other team members when needed
  • Flexible and open to new ideas


Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
In addition to his on-ice presence, Bergeron is an off-ice force. He excels at team-building, and mentoring young Bruins. ©Getty Images / Maddie Meyer/

Encourages positive interpersonal relations and group processes: Relaxed, encouraging, tactful, supportive, friendly, helpful.

  • Emphasizes team process
  • Believes in an interpersonal glue
  • Listens well and periodically summarizes discussion
  • Encourages everyone to participate
  • Helps team members relax and have fun


Asks tough questions and pushes the team to take reasonable risks: candid, brave, adventurous, questioning, principled, hones, outspoken.

  • Questions goals and methods
  • Willing to disagree with the leader
  • Encourages the team to take well-conceived risks
  • Honest about progress and problems
  • Asks why and how and other relevant questions

Which one are you?

* Useem, J. (2006). What’s That Spell? TEAMWORK! Fortune. 153. 11:64 ** Kennedy, F. & Nilson, L (2008). Successful Strategies for Teams. 1-85.


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