What a legend can teach us about leadership

The past week we lost a legend. Bob Cole, the eminent broadcaster for Hockey Night in Canada for fifty years, was a beloved and iconic figure in Canadian sports. His passing was felt by hockey fans across the country. Bob Cole was the long time play-by-play voice of Hockey Night In Canada. He was also the voice I remember listening to sitting with my father every Saturday night.

Yesterday I listened to Bob’s last interview with CBC reporter Ian Hanomansing as he prepared for his final broadcast on April 6, 2019.

What impressed me the most about the interview was Bob Cole’s humility.

Bob believed in keeping the focus on the game itself and the unfolding action, rather than making the play-by-play about his own persona or commentary style. His approach to broadcasting allowed the drama and emotion of the game to come through. In the interview he was adamant that he never wanted the listener to remember the broadcaster; he wanted to listener to be impacted by the game. It wasn’t about him. It was about the game.

The interview was a good leadership lesson – the importance of humility. A great leader puts their team, the organization, and the cause above their own ego or personal agenda. A great leader exudes self-confidence without arrogance. They give credit and recognition to team members rather than seeking it for themselves, and are happy to see others succeed. In short, a great leader chooses service over self-interest.

Thank you, Bob Cole, for the memories and the lessons.