Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews – A leader born to be made

Chicago, IL –There is an age-old debate in the Psychology and Management worlds regarding leaders and leadership. Are leaders born or are they made? This question has floated around forever and been debated by those far more versed than I.  You don’t need to have a PhD in psychology or have an MBA to know that the Chicago Blackhawks have a great leader and one that is so young he could possibly be the greatest leader to have a C on his hockey jersey in the league.

Jonathan Toews is a great team captain and leader because he personifies everything that a hockey captain and team leader should be. To me there are qualities regardless of profession or ilk that are common to all great leaders. Jonathan Toews has them all.  Now there are all kinds of books that will tell you what a great leader is but to me a great leader can do the following:

  • They lift, inspire and influence those around them to want to be better – check
  • They should have a vision of goals and a singular focus in how to achieve them – check
  • They should work harder than anyone else – check
  • They should lead by example – check
  • They should posses an almost obsessive passion for what they are doing- check
  • They should posses a fierce determination to excel – check
  • They should be always learning and striving to be better – check
  • They should sense when appropriate communication is needed or necessary – check
  • They take on the burden of responsibility when things get tough – check
  • They are committed to the team first and themselves second – check

Jonathan Toews not only has all of these attributes you get the feeling that he never sleeps or if he does he is running down some checklist in his head while sleeping. People do not achieve what he has at such a young age without discipline and dedication. This is a testament to not only Jonny but to his parents and early influences as well.

It has been well documented all of his accomplishments and he is only 23 years old. For those of you who have been in a cave:

It is not surprising that in this 2011-12 season he is currently leading the NHL in face-offs won and is among the league leaders in goals scored and points. He currently has 32 points with 17 goals and 15 assists. At this pace he will have a season high of an insane 96 points.  A number of people have stated they believe Toews was embarrassed by the teams’ performance last year and how they exited the playoffs in the first round. It probably did as Toews worked out even harder in the off-season and it is paying off. You sense he will not let this team fail or fall short again.

There have been so many games when he completely took over the game and lifted them on his young but broad shoulders. He almost singlehandedly did so last year in the playoffs when he stormed the Vancouver Canuck zone while the Hawks were shorthanded. While practically lying down on the ice somehow got his team into overtime and were literally one goal away from moving on. Not to mention he is probably one of the NHL’s best two-way players in the league.

I have read that even at a young age Jonathan took everything he did seriously hence his nickname of “captain serious”. I recall reading something where his mother said he did not want to color outside the lines of a coloring book even though they told him it was alright to do so. His teachers said they never witness such focus on anything whether he was working on a puzzle or playing with Legos. At an early age young Toews had an eye for detail and sought perfection.

His teammates all respect him and say he is the last one to leave the rink. Again this is nothing new at an early age I have a feeling Jonathan was the first to be on the ice his Dad made and probably the last one to come in at night. Who knows if it wasn’t for things like pneumonia he might have even begged his parents to sleep on the ice.

Chicago Blackhawk fans are very happy to have someone so dedicated and skilled leading the troops on the ice. You always get the feeling no matter what the Hawks have a chance to win because of his leadership abilities. He is so competitive you know he hates to lose. He is a role model for kids and lives up to a high standard as well off the ice. What is exciting for Blackhawks fans is that Toews has accomplished so much so quickly that you have to believe he will not be happy until he achieves even more and being the team guy I’m sure he is looking for more Stanley Cups for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Whether Jonathan Toews was born a natural leader or was made into one through his desires, dedication and practice I’m not sure. I would suspect from hearing those that recount his younger days that he was born with a lot of leadership qualities like dedication, determination, passion, intelligence and competitive drive. I’m sure his mother has some pretty seriously competitive video of him and his friends and brother playing hockey in the back yard rink.

I also have to think that he made choices and decisions that made him a leader. He made choices that ordinary children don’t make like foregoing playing video games with your friends for long hours and early morning ice time practices. He chose to leave the comforts of home to go to a boarding school for high school at Shattuck St. Mary’s to focus on his hockey.  He chose to continue to craft his hockey skills rather than go for the money when he stayed in college and played for the North Dakota Fighting Sioux one more year so when he did enter the NHL he was physically and mentally ready for the challenges.

Born or made Jonathan Toews exemplifies what it is to be a good leader, teammate and hockey player. That he is only 23 years old is remarkable and perhaps one day will make him the greatest leader in all sports of all time. He is certainly on the road that is for sure. Just think Chicago you are lucky enough to have witnessed some of his accomplishments and somehow I have feeling the best ones of his are yet to come.

1 – taken from Wikipedia


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