If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you may have noticed I have a tendency to find relationships between family business and ice hockey. For example my March 2014 blog entitled, “Women in the Family Business (and Pro Ice Hockey for That Matter)” attempted such a connection.

I play in a men’s league and coach my 13 year-old son’s team and love it all. Last week my son’s team won in triple overtime to advance to the championship game which was this past Sunday. Unfortunately, the timing was awful as some of the players had spring break and were away with their families and unable to play. We were short several players and our top scorer was one of them and the team knew what a potential setback this could be. Typically a team needs 13 players and a goalie and 10 and a goalie is the minimum. We had 8 and a goalie.

The tone was solemn and serious in the locker room prior to the game until the goalie spoke up reminding his teammates of how they struggled earlier this season and how they came together mid-way through the season. He reminded everyone that they turned things around by trusting and relying on each other and playing the sport in team fashion, the way it was meant to be played – NOT by relying on any single player. All the players whooped and hollered and the energy spiked.

Hockey teams are super-close, much like a tight-knit family (even, dare I say it, like a family business.) Success requires leadership (the goalie through his comments), teamwork towards the same set of objectives (the critical component that turned the season around) and open and honest (hopefully compassionate) feedback for everyone to improve individually and as a team (the coaches primary job as well as for players when done respectfully between them). On healthy teams teammates stick together through thick and thin supporting one another without attacking or blaming.

The odds were against us Sunday and all the boys picked up their games. Two of the weakest players on the team had their best games ever; they all played with passion and smarts and contributed like never before. The stronger players worked their hearts out. Every single player took it up a notch. They won it 3-2.

When I talk to people about my consulting work with enterprising families inevitably people talk about the conflict and drama. The true beauty exists when these families work as a team, develop quality leaders and pull together to execute their strategy and achieve goals time and again. For me, the similarities between ice hockey and family business are frequent and striking.