Friday, November 20, 2009

Leadership Style Re-Invigorates "Original Six" Franchise

Growing up in Chicago, I have always been a pretty big hockey fan. The Chicago Blackhawks are the toast of the town and that can be attributed to John F. McDonough. John McDonough is the President of the Chicago Blackhawks. He became President in 2007. McDonough took over as President of a franchise that was so out touch with the public and had cut ties with people/companies long affiliated with the team. Since his reign as President began, the Blackhawks franchise has had a new life breathed into it. They have become the successful "Original Six" team that they were in the past.

As the turnaround of the organization has been contemplated, so has McDonough's leadership style. He has appeared to have the right traits (DePree), situation (Goleman), and context (Selznick) in which to succeed. In an article in the Chicago Tribune, tenants of McDonough's philosophy of leadership have been listed. These tenants include, “Relationships and personality are essential keys to success; Embrace failure. It's the residue of creativity and innovation; and Leaders are never afraid to take blame or acknowledge the success of others".,0,1505009.story

McDonough's leadership style relates to numerous theories we've discussed in class.

McDonough came to the Blackhawks from the Chicago Cubs, where he helped to make the Cubs an even more fan friendly franchise. When he came over to the Blackhawks organization, he had to convince the other front office members (the followers) that his new vision would be the best solution to solving the problems the organization was facing (Heifitz, 1994). Gardner mentions power when he says that leaders have the power to set the agenda, which then enables them to mobilize their followers (Gardner, 1990), which related to one of McDonough’s tenants of leadership. This part of his idea of leadership says “Relationships and personality are essential keys to success” which also ties in with the new vision idea. McDonough had to mobilize his followers, by establishing relationships with them in order for them to follow his new vision to attain success in the organization.

Like Selznick, Burns and Heifitz have discussed, McDonough was able to motivate the other members of the organization to buy into his new way of thinking and successfully start to turn the organization around. As McDonough began to implement his new plans for the Chicago Blackhawks, people began to buy into this plan and became dedicated to the new vision as well (Sashkin, 1989).

It has been two years since McDonough has been President of the Chicago Blackhawks. His new vision of where the take the franchise in the future has already been deeply ingrained into the franchise culture. His idea of leadership has helped to successfully re-invigorate what appeared to be an out of touch and secluded hockey franchise.