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The Boston Bruins are a pro hockey team captained by the tallest player ever to play in the NHL. Slovak defenceman Zdeno Chara is 6’ 9” and he demands a key attitude of his teammates that has helped keep his team as a championship contender for over a decade. He welcomes rookies. When new players are brought into the Bruins dressing room, there are no pranks or initiations. Instead, it is understood by all players, regardless of salary, status or time served, that if a player is here, they are a Bruin.
When the right new staff members are hired, they bring tremendous opportunity. Not only do they offer a freshness that puts everyone on good behaviour, but they also ask questions. Those questions and their ensuing conversations tell the leader a lot. It tells you plenty about the person asking them (and we encourage them to over-ask) but it shows where other staff are on their own growth curves. Their explanations show what they truly know and how well you have performed as a leader. The vocabulary they use demonstrates their knowledge, skillset and level of buy-in.
Listening to the explanations tells the leader plenty:
If the teachers practice what they preach, the team has the right systems and structure
If the teachers sound like their leader, the team has the right culture
If the teachers welcome newbies, the team is strong in humility
If the teachers encourage feedback and dialogue, the team can put ego aside
If the teachers push away frustration, the team is disciplined
If the teachers try new explanations when others fail, the team is gritty
Perhaps even more importantly, training forces a team to slow down and think consciously about why things are done, promoting reassessment of workflow and overall system improvement.
In the right environment, rookies make teams better. They have new energy and ask great questions that make the team accountable. They force deeper thinking and sometimes bring new insight with their unbiased opinions. They bring out the true colours of others.
The extra time spent taking care of rookies pays off exponentially.
Take advantage of the situation, you are lucky to have them.
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