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Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock shares leadership lessons at OISE

Former World Junior, Olympic, World Cup and Stanley Cup-winning coach speaks with educators about achieving excellence 

By Lindsey Craig

November 18, 2016


Watch above to hear Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach Mike Babcock share lessons in leadership. (OISETube/YouTube)


Toronto Maple Leaf Head Coach Mike Babcock recently shared lessons in leadership with principals and educators at an Ontario Institute for Studies in Education event titled, “Creating High Performing Teams: Achieving Excellence in Sport and Education.”

“Building a team is like signing a player to a long-term contract. It’s like getting married – you better make a good decision. You need to surround yourself with the power team you need,” he said to more than 120 school leaders gathered in the OISE library for the Nov. 10 talk.

Babcock came to OISE at the University of Toronto to speak with principals and vice-principals from throughout the GTA.

The event was in honour of associate teachers and administrators who mentor and support University of Toronto teacher candidates for the OISE teacher education practicum.

Before addressing audience members, the veteran hockey coach also sat down with OISE’s Lindsey Craig to give a one-on-one interview about leadership. Watch above to view the interview.

The event was organized by Anne Marie Chudleigh, Dr. Liz Coulson and the OISE practicum team from the three teacher education programs in the Faculty of Education.

“Great leaders are continually hungry to refine their practice and increase their impact. Mike’s talk inspired and re-ignited our shared leadership mission in education to create school conditions that nurture excellence, foster collaboration and optimize talent,” said Dr. Coulson, also recognizing Wally Hunter, Managing Director of Enertech Capital, who helped OISE make the connections that led to the event.

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock shares leadership lessons at OISE

Stanley Cup, Olympic-winning coach holds Bachelor of Education degree

Among countless achievements, Babcock, who graduated with a degree in physical education and a Bachelor of Education from McGill University, was Head Coach of the 2008 Stanley Cup-winning Detroit Red Wings, Canada’s 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold-medal winning teams, and recently helped lead Team Canada to victory in the 2016 World Cup.

The native of Manitouwadge, Ont., who grew up in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was hired in May 2015 on an eight-year contract to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs – a team which hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967.

A few of Babcock’s leadership tips included:

  • Hire passionate people with great new ideas. “When you hire passionate people they make people around them better,” he said.
  • Surround yourself with the smartest people you know. Learn from them.
  • Integrity counts.
  • Don’t get comfortable too long – change is good. That way, everyone can continue to grow and learn.
  • Lifelong learning is key.
  • Caring about people is important. “That’s how you have an impact on someone’s life,” he said.
  • As a leader, it’s important to maximize everyone’s potential, “squeeze it out of them. ” “It’s not always warm and cuddly, it’s pushing them to be better,” he noted.
  • Choose your team carefully. “That’s why these people that bring these teachers in for practicums, it’s so important because bring you get to have a free tryout, you get to know who they are and you get to know if you need them on your staff,” he said.

Babcock is author of the 2012 book, Leave no Doubt: A Credo For Chasing Your Dreams which speaks to making moments happen in life – through careful planning and being ready to capitalize when key opportunities arise.

For more from Mike Babcock, watch the video above.


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