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Lessons on Leading a Team from the Mighty Ducks Trilogy

A recent Mighty Ducks marathon made me realise the secrets to leading a team has been on the 3rd shelf of my DVD bookcase all this time (and on Disney Plus). As a General Manager for almost ten years, I’ve made my share of mistakes. Building a team can be tough, especially when you’re battling feelings of inadequacy, giving bad direction, and struggling to connect with your team. But Gordon Bombay’s story in the Mighty Ducks movies offers valuable lessons about what it really means to be a leader, even when you don’t think much of yourself.

Here are 10 Mighty Rules we can all be reminded of from Coach Bombay:

Stay true to your team’s identity

Absolute number one rule.  In each film their duckness is questioned and it’s not until the coach brings out a cardboard box full of jerseys does their fate turnaround.

One team, one dream, one theme.

We are all underdogs until someone believes in us

Everyone wants to succeed, and that success is possible with just one person believing in them.  You don’t have time for imposter syndrome because you have a responsibility to help people believe in themselves.  Be the person you needed.

Accentuate the Positive

The big theme in the movie is the need to have fun.  Celebrate the wins, reframe defeat and look for ways to fill peoples buckets so they can be the best possible version of themselves.

(Accentuate the Positive is such a good track, honourable mentions to other amazing songs including Mr Big Stuff, Good Vibrations, Whomp! There it is and We Will Quack You!)

Every team leader screws up 1-3

It’s a psychological battle out there and it’s easy to lose your way.  Admit when you’re wrong, prioritise trust and skate around alone at night for some self-reflection.  Don’t be hard on yourself, messing up is part of the course.

There are people who want to see you fail

For someone to win, others have to lose.  As Coach Orion (D3) says ”It’s easy to be confident when you have control of the puck.  You got to have the confidence to attack the game when the puck isn’t yours.”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is everything

10 x Adam Banks does not a Ducks team make!!  No knucklepuck? No Wu, Wu, Ken Wu? No 2 minute penalties for roping? 

No thank you.

Have an eye for talent – the rest can be taught

If your team was good at everything they probably would not be hanging around you! Everyone has limitations and improvements to make. If everyone is working in silos? Take a leaf out of Bombays book and tie them together with a rope until they learn to work as one! Fulton Reed couldn’t even skate, but teaching him to skate was easier than teaching someone else to do his amazing power shot.

Don’t lose yourself to self promotion

You may need to hit the circuit to promote the team but nobody wants the Air Bombay Loafer: for kids that want to coach.  It’s not about you so don’t become something that your past self would rolls their eyes at – it’s a distraction.

Win or lose, be proud of hardwork

Pressure at the right time is a good thing but don’t set them up so if they do fail, the event will crush their soul.  Bombay learnt the hard way. Even after this hard lesson, he still didn’t always get the balance right himself. Being a leader is a constant work in progress.

Invest in their success but know it does not belong to you

Part of your job is knowing when you have done your job.  If you can part ways knowing they are in a better place to how you have found them, then Bombay would be proud of you.

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